Today is the birthday of Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, who
was born in Akron, Ohio 45 years ago. Born of England's early new wave
scene, the Pretenders are best known for Hynde's low, often rhythmic voice
on such hits as "Back on the Chain Gang" and "Don't Get Me Wrong." Hynde
got her start performing in bands around Akron; she left the area after
three years of college to pursue a rock 'n' roll life in London. When her
early attempts panned out, she moved to France, then back to Ohio, where
she joined Jack Rabbitt. In 1976 she returned to England, just as punk rock
was beginning to develop. After more struggling, she was hired by Sex
Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren as guitarist for Masters of the Backside.
After several months, she was booted; meanwhile, the rest of the group
soldiered on as the Damned.
Hynde continued making the scene, and eventually hooked up with
bassist Pete Farndon, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and drummer Gerry
Mackleduff, who was soon replaced by Martin Chambers. All the members had
been working with other bands for years. The quartet released two singles,
"Kid" and "Stop Your Sobbing," winning a label deal which led to the
release of their self-titled debut in 1980. Another single, "Brass in
Pocket," went to #1 in the UK. Producing follow-up works was slow-going for
a time, and Farndon was kicked out of the band in June of 1982. Two days
later Honeyman-Scott died of a drug overdose; "Back on the Chain Gang" was
written about him and performed by Hynde, Chambers, ex-Rockpile guitarist
Billy Bremner and Big Country bassist Tony Butler.
Lineup changes kept Hynde and Chambers as the only solid members of
the Pretenders. They released Learning to Crawl in 1984, and that
same year Hynde married Jim Kerr of the Simple Minds. Between 1986 and
1993, the band had a rocky time recording their music. "Don't Get Me Wrong"
was the only big hit of the period. Their most recent album is 1994's
Last of the Independents, which included singles for "Night in My
Veins" and "I'll Stand By You," both of which fared well in the charts.
Other birthdays: the late Chris Acland (Lush), who would have been
31; the late Buddy Holly, who would have been 61; Alfa Anderson (Chic),
51; Gloria Gaynor, 48; Margot Chapman (Starland Vocal Band), 40; Jermaine
Stewart, 35 and Leroi Moore (Dave Matthews Band).