It’s fitting in a way, for a boxing fan like Chrissie Hynde, that she should enjoy a reputation as a fighter: in fact, the ultimate comeback kid. More than once she’s had to take the knocks, but she returns undaunted. Maybe a bit bruised by the experience, but with her spirit as strong as ever.
It’s that spirit and resilience we celebrate in this latest Ultimate Music Guide, to her band: the Pretenders. If Chrissie was a nearly-was of punk rock – an employee of Malcolm McLaren’s shop Sex; in bands, however fleetingly with members of the Damned and the Clash – then she truly found her moment in the new wave of a couple of years later. Hip, determined, she had a vision for how things should be done, and went about finding people to help bring her songs to life.
As she tells us in her exclusive foreword for this new magazine, her idea was that “we were going to be like a motorcycle club but we had guitars. I thought I was this little badass because I liked bikers, not to my credit, that’s just where my head was at.”
A true musician, Chrissie had travelled the world trying to get a band together, an experience which led her to recognise instantly when something magnificent had finally clicked into place. What followed straight away was a run of excellent singles and two dynamic, classic albums – the first hits of the 1980s, both in a chronological sense, and other more metaphorical ones besides.
“I didn’t know it was going to be so melodic until I met Jimmy [Honeyman-Scott, guitarist],” she writes. “He wasn’t interested in anger or punk, he liked Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. We both had a lot in common too with the things we loved.”
The original Pretenders were together for a tragically short time, both Honeyman-Scott and bass player Pete Farndon succumbing to drug habits that were already well established before they joined the band. Chrissie came back, however, with more great music, as she has done ever since.
Our celebration of the Pretenders arrives on the heels of a year which has seen reissues of those first albums, Chrissie’s solo album of Dylan covers, and work begun on a new album of duets.
“Fuck knows how The Pretenders works now,” she confesses. “As much as I’m loathe to admit it and having denied it for years, I guess I’m the common thread. I just keep doing what I’m doing. I’m not trying to increase my audience, I’m just trying to keep my thing alive a little bit…”
Buy a copy of the magazine here. Missed one in the series? Bundles are available at the same location…