- Mar 2 2021Mind-blowing tales from Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde's unbelievable life, from Bowie and Bono through to Sex Pistols and Simple Minds.
Chrissie Hynde & Pretenders - 25 Amazing Facts
Chrissie Hynde & Pretenders - 25 Amazing Facts
This month sees the release of Hate For Sale, Pretenders’ 11th studio album. Despite arriving 40 years after the band’s captivating 1980 self-titled debut, Hate For Sale expertly aligns with the band’s original oeuvre: jangling guitars, confessional vocals and no nonsense rock punch. In fact, for fans who have been following since the early days, the Bo Diddley beat of new single "Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely" even harks back to 1980's "Talk Of The Town" B-side, "Cuban Slide."
To celebrate the band’s latest chapter, I Like Your Old Stuff looks at the fascinating career of Chrissie Hynde and her great Pretenders.
1. Christine Ellen Hynde was born on 7 September 1951 in Akron, Ohio. Her first kiss was notable: attending a performance by soul artist Jackie Wilson, the singer bent down and planted a sloppy pash on her from the stage.
2. A teenage trip over the border to Buffalo, New York to see Tyrannosaurus Rex was less memorable, with Marc Bolan failing to live up to his sex-elf reputation. “He came out in this two-piece jumpsuit with his belly hanging out,” Hynde recalled in 2009. “I actually broke down in tears.”
3. Hynde played with future Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh in Saturday Sunday Matinee in 1967 when she was 16. She told Melody Maker, "I was so shy that I wouldn’t stay in the same room as the band to sing. I’d take the mike into the laundery room and shut the door." Hynde only played one gig with the band, a show at an Ohio church hall. More than 40 years later, she opened for Mothersbaugh’s band, Devo at a Barack Obama fundraiser in 2008.
4. Chrissie Hynde’s first real encounter with rock royalty occurred after a Faces gig in Cleveland, Ohio, when Chrissie and her girlfriend met Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood at the band’s hotel. “We sat there all night and we smoked dope and got really out of our trees,” Chrissie told Rolling Stone in 1980. Things were heading in the direction of Hynde losing her virginity to Ronnie Wood, but she insisted to her friend they had to leave as the future Pretender had to “take my driver’s training course in the morning… Just think – Robbie Wood would’ve been my first big one.”
5. Hynde was an art student at Ohio's Kent State University when, on May 4, 1970, the National Guard were called in to control Vietnam protesters on campus and shot dead four students, with nine more wounded. The shocking event was memorialised in the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young track "Ohio," which was recorded within three weeks of the incident and released a month later. "I heard the shots, I didn’t see the shooting," Hynde recalled. "We all refused to leave and we were carried off campus." In her autobiography, Reckless, Hynde wrote of her friend Jeff Miller, who had died in the shooting, "I knew Jeff Miller had been a fan of Neil Young, so I was happy that Young had become our spokesman, our voice."
6. David Bowie made his official US live debut in Cleveland, Ohio in 1972 – and Chrissie Hynde was there to witness it. On the afternoon of the gig, Bowie had emerged from his Music Hall soundcheck and asked Chrissie, who had been waiting for her idol, if she knew somewhere to eat. Bowie, fresh from releasing The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars, was bundled into Chrissie’s car with his security man. Their 21-year-old chauffeur (who had borrowed Mum’s car for the day) drove them to a restaurant she knew, but was rendered mute in Ziggy’s otherworldly presence. “I was so utterly in love with him that I was trembling and couldn’t look him in the eye.” Decades later at Bob Geldof and Paula Yates’ wedding she told a baffled Bowie about the experience, which she called “the most important day of my life.” He didn’t remember any of it.
7. Speaking of Bowie, Pretenders appeared on the recording of Iggy Pop and David Bowie’s co-write, "Lust For Life" with Tom Jones on his album Reload in 1999, which became the Welshman’s biggest selling record of his career. “I’ve never listened to the final version, so maybe it was crap,” Hynde suggested to Q in 2001.
8. Weaned on imported copies of UK music press and in love with the forward-thinking sounds emerging from England, Hynde bought a plane ticket bound for London in 1973. Settling in the country without official work permits, she fell into a writer role at weekly magazine NME, savaging a Neil Diamond album in her first review. The editor loved it, offering his new scribe a Brian Eno cover story assignment, followed by features on Suzi Quatro and David Cassidy’s first British tour. “I wasn’t really a journalist, just trying to make a quick buck,” Hynde reflected in Jon Savage’s excellent punk retrospective, England’s Dreaming.
9. In 1974, Hynde began work as a shop assistant with Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren at their clothing store Fashion Must Wear Clothes, But The Truth Loves To Go Naked (which would soon morph into the infamous Sex store). Hynde recalls in England’s Dreaming, McLaren sacked for causing a scene after her ex-boyfriend, NME writer Nick Kent, came in and beat her with his studded belt.
10. Chrissie’s initial UK musical ventures were abject failures, but many involved musicians who’d find key roles in the emerging punk scene. When she began collaborating with London SS musicians Tony James (later of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik) and Mick Jones (future Clash and Big Audio Dynamite guitarist), they changed their name to Mike Hunt’s Honourable Discharge before the project stalled. The singer also baulked at future Clash manager Bernie Rhodes pitching a Jones/Hynde group called School Girls’ Underwear, although Hynde told Q magazine in 2016 “some of the songs we wrote ended up on the first Clash album.”
11. During the punk era, one of Hynde’s other revenue streams was to write stories for pornographic magazine, Forum. In Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming, John Lydon, AKA Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten, reveals he would sometimes write them with her. The pair “used to sit there making up utter gunk” and then laughingly pick up a copy of the magazine a month later to see their titillating stories in print. “People are masturbating to this nonsense!” Lydon howled.
12. To legitimise her stay in the UK, Chrissie planned on marrying Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, who had suggested he’d do the deed for a payment of two quid. “He did turn up to marry me for a visa, but the registry office was closed for a holiday,” Hynde recounted in 2016. More info on Chrissie’s punk roots, here.
13. One early contender for a name for Pretenders was The Rhythm Method, but it was ruled out to avoid undue controversy.
14. Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, who remains the only original member with Hynde in the 2020 Pretenders line-up, was recommended to Hynde by Motörhead’s Lemmy. “Lemmy was very instrumental in my history,” Hynde told Marc Maron in his WTF podcast in 2014. “Without him the Pretenders wouldn’t have happened.”
15. Pretenders’ debut single "Stop Your Sobbing" was produced by Hynde’s drinking buddy Nick Lowe, who felt the demo he’d heard was a potential hit. The song, a cover of a Ray Davies song from The Kinks’ 1964 debut album Kinks, which reached #33 in the UK in February 1979.
16. A year after the release of "Stop Your Sobbing," and in the wake of Pretenders’ self-titled debut hitting number 34 on on the UK album chart, Hynde met songwriter Davies in a New York club. They began a relationship, welcomed daughter Natalie in 1983 and were meant to marry in April 1982, but the pair were turned away by the marriage registrar because they were arguing too much. Despite their relationship dissolution a few years later, Hynde has said Davies is still “one of my favourite artists.”
17. While touring Australia in January 1984, Hynde met Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr. The pair were married on 5 May that same year, in a Central Park, New York ceremony on board a horse drawn carriage.
18. Hynde appeared as guest vocalist on U2’s The Unforgettable Fire album in 1984, however the freshly married singer was credited as Christine Kerr. The Pretenders frontwoman can be heard on "Pride (In The Name Of Love)," which went to number four in the Australian singles chart.
19. Upon the dissolution of The Smiths in 1987, Johnny Marr briefly joined Pretenders ahead of their US dates with U2 on The Joshua Tree Tour. Marr appeared on their 1988 single "The Windows Of The World," a Burt Bacharach/Hal David cover.
20. Other interesting covers recorded by Pretenders for soundtracks during their career include "Angel Of The Morning" (which appeared on the 1995 soundtrack for the TV show Friends), 10cc’s "I’m Not In Love" (included in the 1993 film, Indecent Proposal) and Morrissey’s "Everyday Is Like Sunday" (originally found on the 1993 album for Drew Barrymore flick, Boys On The Side).
21. Chrissie Hynde also worked with US alternative stars Urge Overkill in 1993 (under the moniker, Superfan) for a cover of The Carpenters’ "Superstar," which was included on the Wayne’s World 2 soundtrack. A massive fan of the Chicago band, Hynde was also seen at the Urge Overkill merch stand selling T-shirts at their club appearances in 1993.
22. Hynde has said it was seeing the live energy of Chicago’s Urge Overkill in 1993 which led to her getting Martin Chambers back in the Pretenders’ ranks after giving him the flick during the recording of the Get Close album in 1986. “Seeing them changed everything for me,” she told the New York Times in 1994. “Suddenly I knew I had to be back with Martin, and everyone’s digging it, everyone’s loving it.”
23. The mid-1990s also saw Hynde recording with INXS (on the title track of Full Moon, Dirty Hearts) and Frank Sinatra for his Duets II album. Hynde later said she didn’t really know the song "Luck Be A Lady" as “I never watch musicals,” but, “when you’re asked to be on a record with Frank Sinatra you’re not going to say no, are you?”
24. In 2007 Hynde opened the VegiTerranean restaurant in Akron, and performed a short set of songs at the opening in September. The eatery, which Business Week named as one of its top five US vegan restaurants, shut down in 2010. Their Facebook page announced, “We tried everything we could to keep the restaurant going but unfortunately due to the current economic climate this has not been possible.”
25. To any Aussie who didn’t enjoy Noel Gallagher’s support slots on U2’s 2019 Australian tour dates, blame Chrissie Hynde. She took Bono over to Noel’s place one night and introduced them. “They’ve been friends ever since!” she exclaimed in 2016.
Listen to Pretenders' new album Hate For Sale on Spotify here:
Listen to Pretenders’ new album Hate For Sale on Apple Music here:
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