Formed in Hereford, England in March of 1978, The Pretenders is an American-British rock band that is composed of Chrissie Hynde on lead vocals and rhythm guitars, Martin Chambers on drums and percussion, James Honeyman-Scott on lead guitars and keyboards, and Pete Farndon on bass and backup vocals. Over the course of their career, The Pretenders have experienced several line-up changes with Chrissie Hynde being the only consistent member of the band. Hynde started her solo career in 2014 which put The Pretenders on hold for almost 6 years. But, The Pretenders have resurfaced and released an album and embarked on a tour in 2016.
Ohio native Chrissie Hynde moved to London in 1973 to work at the weekly music paper, NME, and Vivienne Westwood’s clothes store. While she was in London, she got involved with different bands like The Damned, The Clash and some short-lived bands like The Moors Murderers and Masters of the Backside. The Pretenders was founded in 1978 after a producer of Anchor Records, Dave Hill heard Chrissie Hynde’s demo tapes. Dave Hill arranged a rehearsal in a studio in Denmark Street with Chrissie Hynde, Mal Hart, Phil Taylor, and Steve Strange. Hill was impressed by the music they created and he arranged a recording session for another demo. But David Hill knew that Hynde has so much potential in her that she should form a more permanent band. Hynde then formed another band with James Honeyman-Scott on guitars, Martin Chambers on drums, and Pete Farndon on bass. They recorded five songs in 1978 including “Stop Your Sobbing” before they decided to name their band “The Pretenders” which they got from the Platters song “The Great Pretender”.
Albums and Hit Singles
The Pretenders released a total of fourteen albums throughout the years and they are,
- Pretenders (1980)
- Pretenders II (1981)
- Learning To Crawl (1984)
- Get Close (1986)
- Pretenders Live
- Packed (1990)
- Last of the Independents (1995)
- Viva El Amor (1999)
- Loose Screw (2002)
- A Broken Heart Cries/How Can I Go On Without You ( 2007)
- Break Up The Concrete (2008)
- Live From New York City (2009)
- Alone (2016)
They also spawned several hit singles such as
- I’ll Stand By You
- Brass in Pocket
- Back on the Chain Gang
- Don’t Get Me Wrong
- Middle of the Road
- Stop Your Sobbing
- Talk of the Town
- My City Was Gone
- 2000 Miles
- Hymn to Her
- Tattooed Love Boys
- I Go To Sleep
- Private Life
- Night In My Veins
- Time the Avenger
The Pretender’s first single was a cover of The Kink’s song ‘“Stop Your Sobbing” and it was released on January 1979. The single drew critical attention from the market and it was followed by their single “Kid”. and on the following year, the band scored the number one spot in the UK with the song “Brass in Pocket’’ which also became a successful single in the United States.
The Pretenders released their self-titled debut album in January 1980 and it became a success in the UK and United States. And on March 1981, they released an EP with the title “Extended Play” which featured the hit singles “Porcelain”, “Message of Love”, Talk of the Town”, and “Cuban Slide”. On the same year, they released their second full-length entitled “Pretenders II” which carried the hit songs “The Adultress”, “Birds of Paradise” and “Bad Boys Get Spanked”.
In 1982, Pete Farndon’s drug abuse escalated and the group decided to fire him. Two days later after the band fired Farndon, James Honeyman-Scott died of heart failure because of cocaine intolerance. And in 1983, Farndon was found dead by his wife after he took heroin, passed out and drowned in his bathtub. The Pretenders was left with only two living members.
Chrissie Hynde decided to continue with the band and in 1982, with the help of guitarist Billie Bremner, and bassist Tony Butler, they recorded and released the single “Back on the Chain Gang”. It became the Pretender’s biggest hit song in the United States. It reached the top five spot and stayed there for three consecutive weeks.
Chrissie Hynde then set up a more permanent line up and decided to add Robbie McIntosh on guitars, and Malcolm Foster on bass. The Pretenders released their third studio album “Learning to Crawl” in 1984. This album featured a cover of the Persuader’s song, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”. In 1986, they released their album “Get Close” which include the top ten singles “Where Has Everybody Gone?” , “Don’t Get Me Wrong”, and ”My Baby”. They also embarked on the “Get Close” tour to promote the album.
When The Pretenders wrapped up the Get Close tour in 1987, Robbie McIntosh decided to quit the band, and he was replaced by The Smith’s former guitarist, and Hynde’s husband, Johnny Marr. Unfortunately, Hynde and Marr had several arguments and misunderstandings about personal and professional issues that lead Marr to quit the band and leave their marriage. After this mishap, The Pretenders decided to take a break from making music.
The Pretenders resurfaced in 1994 with the album “Last of the Independents” which helped put the band back in the Top 40. And in 1995, they released “Isle of View” only to return to a hiatus again. And in 2003, The Pretenders released a reggae-themed album entitled “Loose Screw” which was followed by a tour. And on 2008, they released the album “Break Up The Concrete” which debuted at the 32nd spot in the Billboard charts and in the UK charts. And the band embarked on a tour to promote the album.
After the tour, Chrissie Hynde decided to put the band on hold and focused on her solo career. She released her first ever solo album with the title “Stockholm” in 2014.