The Pretenders formed in 1978 as a rock quartet featuring Chrissie Hynde as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist. The band has seen numerous changes in members due to deaths and conflicts, yet Chrissie has remained the focal point and the backbone of the group. Her distinctive vocals and cavalier charm have established her as one of the premier singers of rock and alternative music. Chrissie's provocative and often personal songwriting skills and singing presentation showed the world that she not only can sing with the big boys of rock, but often surpass their abilities. Chrissie may be the first 'chick rocker." Although Chrissie hails from Akron, Ohio, she made her musical move in England in the early 70s. Before the Pretenders, Chrissie played with a few other bands including Jack Rabbit and the Berk Brothers.
The first formation of the Pretenders included Chrissie, James Honeyman-Scott (guitar), Pete Farndon (bass), and Martin Chambers (drums). The band grew out of the disappearing punk sound and emerged successfully into the new wave trend of the late 70s and early 80s. Their first successful recordings in England was a version of Ray Davie's "Stop Your Sobbing," "Kid," and the eventual U.S. hit, "Brass In Pocket."
Their first LP, The Pretenders, was released in January, and went Platinum in the U.S.
The band followed up their introduction to American audiences with touring, an EP, "Extended Play," and their second LP, The Pretenders II. The band was quickly becoming one of the premier alternative acts in the U.S. and England, and Chrissie continued to present herself as a tough, sexual musician.
Conflict and tragedy began affecting the group when Honeyman-Scott died on June 16, 1982, from "cocaine-related heart failure" in London, two days after Farndon was fired from the band (due to his drug use and resulting unreliability).
Farndon also died amidst rumors of a drug overdose on April 14, 1983. By the end of the year, Chrissie and Ray Davies became parents, and the Pretenders regrouped with new members Robbie MacIntosh on guitar and Malcolm Foster on bass.
The band recorded the Christmas track, "2000 Miles" and released Learning To Crawl. The LP found the Pretenders finding more success on the pop charts as well as rock and alternative radio, with the tracks "Back On The Chain Gang," "Middle Of The Road," and "Show Me." Hynde married Simple Mind's Jim Kerr.
The Pretenders appeared at Live Aid and Chrissie could be heard on a cover version of "I Got Your Babe" with UB40.
Chrissie and Macintosh finished their next LP, Get Close, with the help of session musicians. Tracks such as "Don't Get Me Wrong" helped maintain the Pretenders' success and in 1987, a greatest hits collection, The Singles, was released.
Chrissie once again joined forces with UB40 for the cover, "Breakfast In Bed."
Chrissie and Kerr divorced and The Pretenders released Packed! which found little commercial success.
In May, the Pretenders released Last Of The Independents, and the band found success once again with tracks such as "Night In My Veins" and their biggest pop hit, "I'll Stand By You." The LP marked the return of original member, Martin Chambers.
In October, the Pretenders released a live LP, The Isle Of View, offering acoustic recordings of many of their hits. The band also contributed a cover version of "Everyday Is Like Sunday" for the Boys On The Side soundtrack.
Chrissie most recently made the news when she married a 32 year old sculptor. New Pretenders material appeared in the form of movie music with 2 tracks on the G.I. Jane soundtrack, "Goodbye" and "The Homecoming."
The Pretenders could be heard with the track "Loving You Is All I Know" from the film The Other Sister. A new Pretenders LP, Viva El Amor, was released in June, with the first single, "Human." The cover of the LP is from a photo taken by Chrissie's friend, the late Linda McCartney. The band toured Europe most of the year and will be tourin in the U.S. in 2000.
In February, Hynde won a Gibson Guitar Award for Best Rock Guitarist (Female). She also headlined a rally in British Columbia protesting the import of cow hides from India and the demand for leather. In March, Chrissie was arrested with PETA President, Ingrid Newkirk, in New York for reportedly damaging leather products at a Manhattan Gap store as part of a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protest. A month later the Gap Inc. announced they would no longer buy skins from black markets in India. In August, the Pretenders will be opening for Neil Young's tour. In November, Rolling Stone & MTV: 100 Greatest Pop Songs includes "Brass In Pocket" at #87.
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