born on 7/9/1951 in Akron, OH, United States
Christine Ellen Hynde (born September 7, 1951) is an American musician who is best known as a founding member of the rock band The Pretenders.
Inspired by hippie counter-culture, Hynde worked in London with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood at their clothing store, SEX. In 1978, she formed her own band, Pretenders, with Pete Farndon, James Honeyman-Scott and Martin Chambers. As singer, songwriter and guitarist, she has been the only constant member of the band throughout its history. She has also released a number of songs with other musicians including Frank Sinatra, Cher and UB40. Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Hynde was born in Akron, Ohio, the daughter of a part-time secretary and a Yellow Pages manager. She graduated from Firestone High School in Akron, but stated that "I was never too interested in high school. I mean, I never went to a dance, I never went out on a date, I never went steady. It became pretty awful for me. Except, of course, I could go see bands, and that was the kick. I used to go to Cleveland just to see any band. So I was in love a lot of the time, but mostly with guys in bands that I had never met. For me, knowing that Brian Jones was out there, and later that Iggy Pop was out there, made it kind of hard for me to get too interested in the guys that were around me. I had, uh, bigger things in mind."
Hynde became interested in hippie counterculture, Eastern mysticism, and vegetarianism. While attending Kent State University's Art School for three years, she joined a band called Sat. Sun. Mat., which included Mark Mothersbaugh, later of Devo. Hynde was also caught up in the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970 in which the boyfriend of one of her friends was among the four victims.
Hynde also developed an interest in the UK music magazine NME and moved to London in 1973. With her art background, she landed a job in an architectural firm but left after eight months. It was then that she met rock journalist Nick Kent and landed a position at NME, writing what she subsequently described as "half-baked philosophical drivel and nonsensical tirades." However, this proved not to last and Hynde later found herself working at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's then-little-known clothing store, SEX. At one point she tried to convince Johnny Rotten and then Sid Vicious (of The Sex Pistols, who were managed by McLaren) to marry her, just in order for her to get a work permit. Hynde's version of this episode has it that Rotten "offered to go to a registry office with me and do the unmentionable" but when he subsequently pulled out, Vicious volunteered to take his place. Upon arrival at the registry office the following morning, they found it "closed for an extended holiday" and were unable to attend the following day due to Vicious making a court appearance. Hynde then attempted to start a band in France before her return to Cleveland in 1975.
She went back to France in 1976 to try to form a band, but it did not work out. She left Kent for Michael Fradji Memmi, bass player of The Frenchies, which she joined. For one show at the Olympia Theatre when their singer had left, she took the lead singer duties. She found her way back to London in the midst of the early punk movement. In late 1976, Hynde responded to an advertisement in Melody Maker for band members and attended an audition for the band that would become 999. Jon Moss (who would later be in Culture Club) and Tony James of Generation X also auditioned. Later, Hynde tried to start a group with Mick Jones from The Clash.
After the band failed to take flight, Malcolm McLaren placed her as a guitarist in Masters of the Backside, but she was asked to leave the group just as it became The Damned. After a brief spell in the band Johnny Moped, Mick Jones invited Hynde to join his band on their initial tour of Britain. Hynde recollected of that period: "It was great, but my heart was breaking. I wanted to be in a band so bad. And to go to all the gigs, to see it so close up, to be living in it and not to have a band was devastating to me. When I left, I said, 'Thanks a lot for lettin' me come along,' and I went back and went weeping on the underground throughout London. All the people I knew in town, they were all in bands. And there I was, like the real loser, you know? Really the loser."
Hynde also spent a short time with The Moors Murderers in 1978. Named after a pair of child-killers, the band consisted of future Visage front man Steve Strange on vocals, Vince Ely on drums, and Mark Ryan (a.k.a. The Kid) and Hynde on guitar. The band's name alone was enough to start controversy and she soon distanced herself from the group, as noted in NME. Hynde said, "I'm not in the group, I only rehearsed with them". She stated that "Steve Strange and Soo Catwoman had the idea for the group, and asked me to help them out on guitar, which I did, even though I was getting my own group together and still am."
In 1978, Hynde made a demo tape and gave it to Dave Hill, owner of the label Real Records. Hill stepped in to manage her career, and began by paying off the back rent owed on her rehearsal room in Covent Garden, London. Hill also advised Hynde to take her time and get a band together. In the spring of 1978, Hynde met Pete Farndon (bass guitar, vocals), and they selected a band consisting of James Honeyman-Scott (guitar, vocals, keyboards), and Martin Chambers (drums, vocals, percussion), and put the name Pretenders on the group, inspired by the Sam Cooke version of the Platters' 1955 R&B song "The Great Pretender".
They recorded a demo tape (including "Precious", "The Wait" and a Kinks cover, "Stop Your Sobbing"), handed it to Hynde's friend Nick Lowe, produced a single ("Stop Your Sobbing"/"The Wait") and performed their first gig at a club in Paris. The single was released in January 1979 and hit the top 30 in UK. Later that spring (1979), the Pretenders recorded their eponymous first album and hit the charts in UK and US with the song "Brass in Pocket".
The band released an EP album, titled Extended Play, then Pretenders II later in the summer. "Talk of the Town" and "Message of Love" were on both. The Pretenders lineup would change repeatedly over the next decade. Honeyman-Scott died of heart failure in June 1982, just days after Farndon had been fired from the band. Martin Chambers left the band in the mid-1980s. Amidst the ever-changing lineup, Hynde endured as the sole original Pretender until Chambers' return in the mid-1990s. Hynde was the only stable member of the band during this period.
In October 2016, Hynde collaborated with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys on the album Alone. This was released as a Pretenders album, though Hynde was the only original member to appear on it. The new band also played a concert for the BBC at the Maida Vale studio.
Other musical projects
Hynde, along with Curved Air's Sonja Kristina, sang backing vocals on Mick Farren's Vampires Stole My Lunch Money 1978 album and also on Hurt by Chris Spedding. She also sang backing on a track, Nite Klub, on the Specials' eponymous debut album. Hynde sang a duet with INXS on their album Full Moon, Dirty Hearts in 1993. She appears on the title track of the album. Hynde sang the vocals on the track "State of Independence Part II" on a Moodswings album named Moodfood, which was played during the closing credits on the soundtrack of Single White Female. She also recorded a cover of Morrissey's "Everyday Is Like Sunday", for the Pretenders album "Pirate Radio" as well as providing backing vocals on Morrissey's single "My Love Life" in 1991 and again on b-side "Shame Is The Name" in 2009.
Hynde recorded a duet with Frank Sinatra on Sinatra's 1994 album Duets II. They performed the song "Luck Be a Lady". In 1995, Hynde made an acting appearance (and performed "Angel of the Morning" on acoustic guitar) on the US television comedy Friends on the episode "The One with the Baby on the Bus". Also, in 1995, Hynde sang a cover of "Love Can Build a Bridge" with Cher and Neneh Cherry. Eric Clapton appeared on the track, supplying the lead guitar solo that is featured in the song's instrumental bridge. In 1997, the EMI publishing company issued a cease and desist request to Rush Limbaugh, who for years had been using an edited instrumental version of Hynde's song "My City Was Gone" for the broadcast's opening theme. When the request came to Hynde's attention during a radio interview, she said her parents loved and listened to Rush and she did not mind its use. They agreed to a usage payment which she donates to PETA.
Hynde's most popular non-Pretenders collaboration with another artist, chartwise, was her 1985 collaboration with UB40 on a cover of Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe." The track topped the UK singles chart and went as high as No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.
In 1999, Hynde played guitar and sang vocals with Sheryl Crow on the song "If It Makes You Happy" during a concert in Central Park. Hynde is mentioned prominently in the lyrics of the Terence Trent D'Arby song "Penelope Please". In 1998, Hynde sang a duet with her friend Emmylou Harris, "She", accompanied by The Pretenders on the Gram Parsons tribute album, Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons. Hynde had previously reviewed Gram and Emmylou's debut country rock classic, "GP." The version merges Emmylou's country rock and Chrissie's reggae tinged new wave. Hynde also recorded a song called "Cry (If You Don't Mind)" with the Spanish band Jarabe de Palo for their album Un metro cuadrado – 1m². She supplied the voice for Siri, the clouded leopard in the movie Rugrats Go Wild (2003) in which she sang a duet with Bruce Willis.
In 2004, Hynde moved to São Paulo, Brazil, for a couple of months in order to play with Brazilian musician Moreno Veloso in an informal tour that lasted until December 2004. She bought a flat in the Copan Building in São Paulo city. She was also the vocalist on Tube & Berger's 2004 No. 1 Hot Dance Airplay track "Straight Ahead". The track gave Hynde a No. 1 track on the Billboard charts. Likewise in 2005, Hynde duetted with Ringo Starr on a song entitled "Don't Hang Up" which can be heard on Starr's album Choose Love. Also in 2005, she collaborated with Incubus on a song called "Neither Of Us Can See". The song is on the soundtrack album for Stealth.
Chrissie Hynde and her band, The Pretenders, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2005 – the Museum's 20th anniversary year, as well as year of the 50th anniversary of the birth of Rock and Roll. Irish band U2 was also among the inductees that year. The ceremony was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.
On October 17, 2008, she was an opening act for fellow Akron-area musicians Devo at a special benefit concert at the Akron Civic Theater for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. The Black Keys, another Akron-based band, and the then up-and-coming solo artist, Rachel Roberts, performed prior to her.
Hynde features as guest vocalist on Ray Davies' 2009 Christmas single Postcard From London and Morrissey's Years of Refusal the same year.
Hynde and Welsh singer J.P. Jones have formed a band called "J.P., Chrissie and the Fairground Boys". They released their debut album, Fidelity, on August 24, 2010. Several stops on the tour were recorded and sold on USB flash drives.
On February 5, 2011, Hynde and the Pretenders performed live on CMT Crossroads with Faith Hill and her band, including songs from both catalogs.
Along with John Cale and Nick Cave, Hynde played on BBC Four for the Songwriter's Circle program on July 9, 1999. The concert took place at the Subterania Club in London, UK and was released on DVD. She also later joined Cave in 2010 for a rendition of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' famous song "I Put a Spell on You" as a benefit for the Haiti disasters. The song and music video featured performances by Mick Jones, Glen Matlock, Shane MacGowan, and Bobby Gillespie among others.
Hynde released a new album, "Stockholm", on June 10, 2014. The album featured contributions from Neil Young and John McEnroe. In October of that year, she also appeared in the BBC Music version of "God Only Knows".
Hynde has a contralto vocal range. Until 1978, shortly before the advent of The Pretenders, Hynde had little idea what she sounded like. Attributing her distinctive time signatures to an inability to count, and her distinctive amusia to an inability to hear, she eschews formal voice training saying that, "distinctive voices in rock are trained through years of many things: frustration, fear, loneliness, anger, insecurity, arrogance, narcissism, or just sheer perseverance – anything but a teacher."
With her take no prisoners lyrical and musical approach and her Zen-Beatnik-Punk-Biker-Chick style Chrissie, along with her contemporaries Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, The Runaways, Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush, Grace Jones, Exene Cervenka, Lydia Lunch, The Slits, The Raincoats, Wendy O. Williams, Lene Lovich, and Nina Hagen influenced the musical landscape as well as female fashion and the feminist attitude for further generations' inspiration. In a 1994 interview, Madonna recalled of Hynde:
"I saw her play in Central Park [in August 1980, performing with the Pretenders]. She was amazing: the only woman I'd seen in performance where I thought, yeah, she's got balls, she's awesome! ... It gave me courage, inspiration, to see a woman with that kind of confidence in a man's world."
Hynde had a daughter, Natalie, in 1983 with Ray Davies of The Kinks. Her first marriage was to Jim Kerr in 1984, lead singer of the band Simple Minds. Together they had a daughter, Yasmin, in 1985. They lived in South Queensferry, Scotland. They divorced in 1990, Hynde then married artist Lucho Brieva in 1997. They divorced in 2002.
She follows Vaishnavism, a branch of Hinduism and travels to India once every year to further her studies.
Hynde lives in London, and also has an apartment in the Northside Lofts in her hometown of Akron.
She was listed as one of the 50 best-dressed over 50s by The Guardian in March 2013.
Hynde's daughter Natalie was arrested in 2013 following a protest against the felling of trees in Combe Haven in East Sussex to make way for a road.
Hynde has described becoming a vegetarian as "the best thing that ever happened to me." She says that she came to regard meat-eaters with "distaste, almost contempt" but has learned to "live and associate with [them] but never respected them." Hynde is also an animal rights activist and a supporter of PETA and the animal rights group Viva!. She also appeared in anti-fur trade organization Respect for Animals' commercial 'Fur and Against' in 2002, alongside Jude Law, Paul McCartney and others.
Hynde published an autobiography, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender, on September 8, 2015. On December 13, 2015 she was interviewed by Emily Maitlis about the book on the "BBC One Andrew Marr show".
Contrary to what Hynde claimed, Whitney Houston's commercial was for Diet Coke, not Pepsi.
Hynde opened The VegiTerranean, a vegan restaurant in Akron, Ohio in November 2007. The restaurant served fusion Italian–Mediterranean food by head chef James Scot Jones. Before the restaurant's opening on September 15, 2007, Hynde performed three songs at the restaurant with Adam Seymour, a former lead guitarist of the Pretenders. The restaurant was voted among the top five vegan restaurants in the U.S. It closed on October 2, 2011, owing to the economic climate, according to Hynde.
- Pretenders (1980)
- Extended Play (1981)
- Pretenders II (1981)
- Learning to Crawl (1984)
- Get Close (1986)
- Packed! (1990)
- Last of the Independents (1994)
- The Isle Of View (1995)
- Viva el Amor (1999)
- Loose Screw (2002)
- Break Up the Concrete (2008)
- Alone (2016)
JP, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys
- Fidelity! (2010)
- Stockholm (2014)
|Release date||Single||UK Chart position|
|September 1984||"Pride (In The Name Of Love)" (with U2)||3|
|July 1985||"I Got You Babe" (with UB40)||1|
|June 1988||"Breakfast in Bed" (with UB40)||6|
|September 1991||"Spiritual High (State of Independence)" (with Moodswings)||66|
|January 1993||"Spiritual High (State of Independence) (Remix)" (with Moodswings)||47|
|March 1995||"Love Can Build a Bridge" (with Cher, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton)||1|
|May 2000||"Kid 2000" (with Hybrid)||32|
|January 2004||"Straight Ahead" (with Tube & Berger)||29|
|October 2014||"God Only Knows" (with various artists)||20|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chrissie Hynde.|
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- Pretenders Archives
- Pretenders 977 Radio
- Chrissie Hynde on IMDb
- Hynde: BBC News article
- Hynde: Associated Press News article
- Chrissie Hynde: I'm Just Telling My Story – new memoir, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender (NPR ME 10/6/15)
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