1980 – Pretenders (UK #1) (US #9)
1981 – Extended Play EP (US #27)
1981 – Pretenders II (UK #7) (US #10)
1984 – Learning To Crawl (UK #11) (US #5)
1986 – Get Close (UK #6) (US #25)
1987 – The Singles (UK #6) (US #69)
1990 – Packed! (UK #19) (US #48)
1994 – Last of the Independents (UK #8) (US #41)
1995 – The Isle of View (UK #23) (US #100)
1999 – Viva el Amor (UK #32) (US #158)
2000 – Greatest Hits (UK #21)
2002 – Loose Screw (UK #55) (US #179)
2006 – Pirate Radio (4 CD/1 DVD Box Set)
1979 - Stop Your Sobbing
1979 - Kid
1979 - Brass In Pocket
1980 - Talk of the Town
1981 - Message of Love
1981 - Day After Day
1981 - I Go To Sleep
1982 - Back On The Chain Gang
1983 - 2000 Miles
1984 - Thin Line Between Love and Hate
1986 - Don't get Me Wrong
1986 - Hymn To Her
1987 - I'll Stand By You
1994 - Night In My Veins
1994 - 977
1995 - Kid (re-recording)
1999 – Human
* The lyrics to "Brass In Pocket" contain lots of instances of Cockney Rhyming Slang. An example is "Got Bottle", the full phrase being "Bottle and Glass". Glass rhymes with ass, which in this case means cocky or nerve. So got Bottle means "I've got nerve" - meaning I'm not backing down."
* "Don't get me Wrong" was inspired by Tennis bad-boy John McEnroe. Says Chrissie "I always imagine him singing this. He's so nice when you get to know him."
* "I'll Stand By You" has been covered by Girls Aloud, Shirley Bassey and Bonnie Tyler
* Chrissie Hynde appeared in an episode of Friends - The One with the Baby on the Bus
* Chrissie Hynde also voiced Siri the leopard in the animated film Rugrats Go Wild!
* Chrissie Hynde is an active member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and help to set up its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia
* Chrissie Hynde was ranked #7 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll list
Crissie Hynde, the key member and architect of The Pretenders, was born in Arkon, Ohio. However, in 1973 she moved to London, England and began working on the still-influential music paper New Musical Express (NME) as a music critic and interviewer.
But Hynde fancied herself as a song writer and performer, and the original line up of the Pretenders was formed in 1978, during the Punk era. Consisting of Pete Farndon (who at the time was romantically linked to Hynde), James Honeyman-Scott, and Martin Chambers (all from Hereford, a provincial area near the English/Welsh border)
The Original line-up was retained from 1978 until 1982, when tragic circumstances resulted hard decisions regarding the band's future.
It wasn't until 1980 that there first album was released, the self-titled "Pretenders", which was a success in both the US and the UK. Their second album was the imaginatively titled "Pretenders II" (1981). Both these albums capitalised on the unusual sound of Hynde's vocals, along with varied and unique musical styles. Sometimes, the tempo and melody would change in the middle of a track. These shifting moods, tempos and signature shifts made it had to pin-point The Pretenders to any particular style of music.
Popular tracks from the first two albums include "Tattooed Love Boys", "Talk of the Town" and "Birds of Paradise"
But all was not well, success was both a blessing and a curse. Certain members of the band had begun to experiment with drugs – experiments which led to addiction. Hynde took the difficult decision to kick Pete Farndon out of the band, when she discovered and was shocked by the true extent of his addiction. She hoped such "tough love" would inspire him to pull himself together. However, as she was initially unaware of Farndon's addiction, she was also unaware of Honyman-Scott's. Two days after kicking Farndon out of the successful band (16th June 1982), Honeyman-Scott was found dead, killed from a cocaine overdose.
"She will always carry on. Something is lost, something is found."
- Hymn to Her
Honeyman-Scott's death, along with Farndon being removed from the band, led to The Pretenders being placed on hiatus. However, as a reaction to Honeyman-Scott's death, Hynde gathered a 'caretaker' group and released the "Back on the Chain Gang" single, initially inspired by Hynde finding long forgotten photograph of Honeyman-Scott while she was still grieving. (The song starts with the words "I found a picture of you…")
The band tried to regroup following an approximate year's hiatus, only for Farndon to die of an overdose on 14th April 1983. Both deaths were a loss, not only to the band, but to music in general. Honeyman-Scott is now widely considered to be an influential rock guitarist, while Farndon's work as a bass guitarist is hugely admired. But the loss of Farndon, an ex-lover of Hynde's must have been devastating for the singer/songwriter, especially as she had tried her best to save him from the destructive life choices he had made.
However, Hynde managed to form a new group, and continued using the name The Pretenders. This new group featured Robbie McIntosh on guitar and Malcolm Foster on bass, and their first album "Learning to Crawl" was released to critical acclaim in January 1984. Songs from this album include "Middle of the Road" and the Christmas ballard "2000 Miles" which was popular in the United Kingdom. This grouping also played at Live Aid, but did not continue long enough to record a second album.
The next album was "Get Close", but most of the instrumentals were those of session musicians. However, this didn't stop tracks like "Don't Get Me Wrong", "Hymn to Her" from being popular, and "Where Has Everybody Gone" was included on the soundtrack of the James Bond film "The Living Daylights".
By now it was clear that the name The Pretenders was increasingly being used where Crissie Hynde would be more appropriate, as 1985 and 1986 saw a huge turnaround on band members. Ironcially, while the band became nothing but backing to singer/songwriter Hynde, she herself was experimenting more and more with writing songs in partnership with outside songwriters.
"I've got my head on the kerb and I can't produce a word. It feels good. It's alright"
- Night in My Veins
The past 15 years haven't been kind to either The Pretenders or Crissie Hynde herself. Hynde was becoming more and more disillusioned with her life and her motivation. Always a keen political activist, she found herself becoming more and more interested in supporting animal welfare, vegetarianism and environmental issues more than actually performing. She was also wary of the over-commercialism of the music industry from the 1990's onwards.
Rebelling, Hynde preferred to release smaller, low key albums and when touring would book smaller, more intimate venues. Some of these decisions were made to the chagrin of the band members, who were also appalled at some of the didactic speeches she would place in-between songs during live gigs without consultation. Often Hynde would insult the audience crudely while sledge hammering her point. ("All you hamburger-eating motherf**kers are going to die!" being a well documented rant which successfully alienated the music press at a Boston gig).
Later albums have been released to little success, but still contain some excellent and personal tracks.
In 2005, The Pretenders were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When accepting the award, Hynde stated:
"We are a tribute band … We're paying tribute to James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon, without whom we would not have been here. On the other hand, without us they might have been here, but that's the way it works in rock 'n' roll."
showing that after all these years, Crissie Hynde still hasn't forgotten the original Pretenders.
"Don't be ashamed to cry. Let me see you through, because I've seen the dark side too."
- I'll Stand By You
To many, the original line-up will always be the definitive Pretenders and none of the subsequent line-ups have matched the original. However, later configurations of the band have arguably released more well-known and well-received songs – such as "I'll Stand By You", "977" and "Angel of the Morning" as well as previously mentioned songs.