The Pretenders are responsible for some great rock and roll music. Their amazing catalog of hits include classics like “Brass in Pocket,” “Talk of the Town,” “Back on the Chain Gang,” “Middle of the Road,” “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” and “I’ll Stand By You.” Despite their traditional rock sound, The Pretenders emerged during a time and place when music was dominated by punk, post-punk, New Wave, and synth bands.
The Pretenders, named after The Platters’ song “The Great Pretender,” formed in 1978 in Hereford, England. The original members were guitarist and lead singer Chrissie Hynde, lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, bassist Pete Farndon, and drummer Martin Chambers.
Honeyman-Scott died in 1982 of a cocaine overdose. Farndon died in 1983 from a heroin overdose. Chambers was out of the band from 1986 through 1993. That makes Hynde The Pretenders’ only constant member.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. In the U.S., The Pretenders have charted three top ten albums and six Top 40 singles.
Even though the band formed in England, Hynde is American. She’s hails from Akron, Ohio. Her musical odyssey from awkward teen to rock and roll goddess introduced her to a plethora of big names. She worked at Malcom McLaren’s clothing store. She tried to start a band with Mick Jones of The Clash. She tried to get Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, both of the Sex Pistols, to marry her so she could stay in the country. She was kicked out of a band that immediately became The Damned. She recorded a demo with Steve Strange, who eventually formed Visage, and Phil Taylor, drummer for MotÃ¶rhead.
The Pretender’s first single, "Stop Your Sobbing," was produced by Nick Lowe. It was a cover of a Kinks song. Oddly enough, in 1983, Hynde had a baby with Ray Davies. She was married to Jim Kerr of Simple Minds from 1984 to 1990.
Two former members of The Smiths joined The Pretenders, albeit for less than a year and at different times. Guitarist Johnny Marr was a member of The Pretenders in 1987. Bassist Andy Rourke was a Pretender in 1993.
The Pretenders’ song “My City Was Gone,” the B-Side to “Back on The Chain Gang,” is the theme music to the Rush Limbaugh Show.