Music News

Happy 60th Birthday to the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde!

There are few stories of talent, luck, and looks combining in as serendipitous a way as they have for the Pretenders' lead singer, Chrissie Hynde, and today we celebrate the raven-haired high priestess of fem-rock's 60th birthday.

The native of Akron, Ohio, attended Kent State University,

where she was witness to the infamous shootings that occurred amid

Vietnam protests there and inspired the CSNY song "Ohio." Though she

never completed her art degree at Kent State, she did find the time to

perform in a band with soon-to-be Devo founder Mark Mothersbaugh. In

1973, she picked up and moved to the U.K., where she accidentally managed

to land a gig at NME magazine, the periodical that had served as a major

catalyst in her jumping the pond.

She then reportedly worked at Vivienne Westwood's

boutique, SEX; solicited Sid Vicious' hand in marriage as means to stay

in the country; played in a band with members of the Damned before they

were the Damned; had "Philthy" Phil Taylor of future Motörhead fame on

drums for the first sessions that would become the Pretenders; and had a

child with both Ray Davies of the Kinks and Jim Kerr of Simple

Minds. Some claim portions of her backstory to be embellished upon or

twisted about for the sake of public perception. However, the fact

remains that if even a fraction of her backstory is the truth, this is a

woman undeniably imbued with the history of rock music.

With the help of manager extraordinaire/SEX co-owner Malcolm McLaren, Chrissie formed the Pretenders and wrote some of the most perfectly crafted and catchy songs of the 1980s. Chrissie always executed the nearly impossible task of remaining feminine and tough at the same time, armed with her trusty Fender Telecasters and a sneer as she led the Pretenders through both great success and immense tragedy in the loss of both guitar phenom James Honeyman-Scott and bass player/former love interest Pete Farndon. Never one to consider herself a feminist, she has done more to progress the image of women in rock in her time than arguably any other artist of her time, without resorting to a sexual image. (We're looking at you, Debbie Harry.)

Between the history that reads like a Hollywood script, the great music, her work as an outspoken vegetarian (way before it was cool), or her roles as animal rights activist and feminist antihero, we have to say Chrissie Hynde is a pretty remarkable woman, and we wish her a very happy 60th birthday! 

Here are a few of our favorite Chrissie moments:

Probably their best-known song, here's "Brass in Pocket" from the debut album by the Pretenders. 

"Kid" is a cut from the second side of the debut album and

features what may be the best example of the late James Honeyman-Scott's

guitar playing.

Here we find Chrissie and co performing the first single that got them

real attention and also happens to have been penned by Chrissie's baby

daddy Ray Davies.

The band performed "English Roses" on German TV at what may have been the peak of its abilities.

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David Von Bader