The Pretenders Artist Profile

pretenders-band.jpg
Steve Morley/Redferns/Getty Images

Formed:

1978 in London, England

Original Members:

  • Chrissie Hynde (born Christine Ellen Hynde on September 7, 1951 in Akron, Ohio) - Lead vocals, guitar, primary songwriter
  • James Honeyman-Scott (born November 4, 1956 in Hereford, England; died June 16, 1982 in London, England) - Lead guitar
  • Pete Farndon (born June 2, 1952 in Hereford, England; died April 14, 1983 in London, England) - Bass guitar
  • Martin Chambers (born Martin Dale Chambers on September 4, 1951 in Hereford, England) - Drums

Other Key '80s Band Members:

  • Robbie McIntosh (born October 25, 1957 in Sutton, Surrey, England) - Guitar, backing vocals

Origins:

The Pretenders would never have happened had Chrissie Hynde not crossed the Atlantic in a move to London in 1973. Initially she wrote music criticism, and in 1976 she was an active observer of the British punk rock explosion. By 1978 she hooked up with Farndon, who helped finalize the band's original lineup by recruiting two Hereford acquaintances, Honeyman-Scott and Chambers. Although the rest of the band didn't share Hynde's punk leanings, the group forged an intertwined, fresh sound.

A Brief Reign for the Pretenders, 1978-1982:

In less than four years together, the original quartet was hailed as one of guitar-based rock music's saviors during the chaotic post-punk period. Honeyman-Scott is still widely regarded as one of rock's all-time guitar greats, capable of unbelievably creative and ingenious rhythms and textures in his playing. Farndon and Chambers, meanwhile, formed a highly capable, organic rhythm section that allowed for a give-and-take cohesion among band members rarely seen in any style of rock music.

The First Two Albums:

With the unimaginatively titled and , released in 1980 and 1981 respectively, the band both created and confidently occupied a niche in rock music that had long desperately needed to be filled. Hynde's quavering, soulful vocals formed a playful interplay with the jagged yet artfully rendered musical lines supplied by the rest of the band. "Kid," "Message of Love," "Precious," "Tattooed Love Boys" and "Mystery Achievement" are but a few song highlights of the first two albums.

Tragedy, Brutal & Abrupt:

Before long Honeyman-Scott's heroin use quickly became an obstacle to the band's continued success, and in June 1982 Hynde kicked him out of the band for his increasingly destructive habit. Tragically enough, just days later Honeyman-Scott died of a drug overdose. To prove inevitability as almost natural law in rock and roll, Farndon died of similar causes just 10 months later. At that point, bouncing back from such double devastation seemed far-fetched for even this hardy bunch.

Aggressive, Determined Perseverance of Hynde & the Pretenders:

Still, this is Chrissie Hynde we're talking about. Two months before Farndon's death, she had already put together a new version of the band. 1984's featured "Back on the Chain Gang," a haunting tribute to Hynde's fallen bandmates that reached the Top 10 on the pop charts. Hynde pressed on with somewhat of a revolving lineup for the Pretenders' next release, 1986's , dismissing Chambers but still finding chart success with the wonderful "Don't Get Me Wrong."

Feminist Icon or Just a Serious Rock Chick?:

By the mid '80s it had become pretty clear to everyone that The Pretenders had become essentially a vehicle for the talented Hynde. This continued, intermittently, into and through the '90s. But more than anything else, Hynde has stayed relevant for the ground she's broken for women in rock and roll. Even so, she has been ambivalent at best about such a role or image, focusing instead on continuing to celebrate the accomplishments of the original Pretenders.

  • Tina Turner performing on stage

    The Top Women Singers of '80s Rock

  • The Human League Stoked Music Fans' Fascination with English Synth Pop

  • dire-straits.jpg

    Dire Straits Immortalized a Time When Music Fans Actually Wanted Their MTV

  • KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas 2017 - Day 1

    Muse Biography and Band Profile

  • Pat Benatar

    These Female Stars Helped Define the Rock Music Genre

  • England's Talk Talk Brought Majesty and Beauty to Its '80s Synth Pop Output

  • Kevin DuBrow (L) and Carlos Cavazo of American heavy metal band Quiet Riot perform live at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1984.

    Quiet Riot Helped Usher in Pop Metal Era, Also Boasts Fascinating History

  • poison-concertphoto.jpg

    The Late '80s Held Few Thorns for Hair Metal Band Poison

  • Joe Strummer

    Life of Joe Strummer, The Clash's Frontman

  • Exene Cervenka (center), lead singer of the quintessential Los Angeles punk rock band 'X' performs at a 1982 Reseda, California concert.

    Rock on With the Top 10 X Songs

  • Woodstock Crowd through fish eye lens

    Where Are They Now? The Original Woodstock Performers

  • The Doobie Brothers perform during Blues Fest 2017

    The Doobie Brothers: Biker Boogie Gone Mainstream

  • America the band

    Who Were America the Band?

  • The band Chicago in 1975

    Chicago (the band): Jazz-Rock Crosses Over

  • Prince performs on stage on the Hit N Run-Parade Tour, Wembley Arena, London, August 1986.

    Prince Was a Major '80s Music Icon but Also a General Pop Culture Legend

  • Essence Awards 2001 Aaliyah

    Pop Musicians Who Died in the 2000s