Chrissie Hynde (born Christine Ellen Hynde, 7 September 1951, Akron, Ohio) is an American rock musician, best known as the leader of the band The Pretenders. She is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and has been the only constant member of the band throughout its history because of Martin Chambers’ (drums / vocals / percussion) departure for a few years before returning.
Daughter of a part-time secretary and a Yellow Pages Manager, Hynde graduated from Firestone High School in Akron, admitting “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 experimented with hippie counterculture, psychotropic drugs, eastern mysticism, and vegetarianism. Hynde joined a band called Sat. Sun. Mat. (which included Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo) while attending Kent State University’s Art School for three years. Hynde was on the campus during the infamous Kent State shootings.
Hynde also developed an interest in the magazine NME when she wasn’t waitressing or working various other jobs to support herself, eventually saving enough money for the move from Ohio to London in 1973. With her art background, Hynde landed a job in an architectural firm but left after eight months. It was then that Hynde met rock journalist Nick Kent and landed a writing position at NME. However, this proved not to last and Hynde later found herself working at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s then-unknown clothing store, SEX, where Hynde was summarily fired for a fight with a customer in which Hynde was hit with a bell from the store. Hynde then made a fruitless attempt to start a band in France before her return to Cleveland in 1975.
Hynde resurfaced in France in 1976 for another stab at forming a band. Finding her way to London in the midst of the punk movement, Hynde tried to start a group with Mick Jones from The Clash. After the band failed to take off, Malcolm McLaren placed her as a guitarist in Masters of the Backside, but she was asked to leave the group just as the band became The Damned. After a brief spell in the Johnny Moped band, Mick Jones had invited Hynde to join his band on their initial tour of Britain. Hynde’s recollection 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 states these words in The Pretenders Greatest Hits DVD documentary extra titled No Turn Left Unstoned.
Soon after an event occurred which was to change her life. A demo tape made by Hynde found its way 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) through a mutual friend at a bar in Portobello Road. The meeting led to her rehearsal room (described by Farndon as “the scummiest basement I’d ever been in in my life”) where they started playing “Groove Me”, by King Floyd, followed by two of Hynde’s tunes: “Tequila” and “The Phone Call”. Hynde and Farndon then hooked up with James Honeyman-Scott (guitar / vocals / keyboards), and Martin Chambers (drums / vocals / percussion), put the name The Pretenders on the group, — inspired by the song “The Great Pretender” by The Platters– 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 gigs ever in a club in Paris. The single was released in January 1979 and quickly hit the Top Thirty in UK. The band’s precocious success was followed by their first gigs in Britain where the band earned wide critical acclaim. In the same spring (1978), The Pretenders recorded their eponymous first album and hit the charts in UK and US with the song “Brass in Pocket”.
Chrissie Hynde appeared at Wembley Stadium on the 7 July 1984 providing back up vocals on the encores of Bob Dylan‘s sell out concert. Also appearing in the encores of that show were Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Carlos Santana.
The Pretenders lineup would change over the years as a result of numerous deaths and internal conflicts. However, Hynde endured, a solid anchor who became the band’s eventual leader although Chambers later returned. Her guitar of choice is a Fender Telecaster.
As the rare, successful female bandleader and style-setter in the early days of punk and new wave, Hynde’s impact was pervasive and substantial. Her edginess, punk sensibilities (she gave Sid Vicious his trademark lock necklace), musical vision, lyrical candor, and truthfulness in interviews earned the respect of fans, musicians and critics alike, inspiring multitudes of young women to follow. Among many collaborations, Hynde’s recordings with UB40 (a cover version of “I Got You Babe”) and Cheap Trick (“Walk Away”) have also registered popular success.
Chrissie Hynde had a daughter, Natalie Rae Hynde, in 1983 with Ray Davies of The Kinks. A cover version of the Davies song “Stop Your Sobbing” had been an early hit for The Pretenders, although Hynde met Davies several years later–a meeting which bloomed into a long-term relationship.
She then married musician Jim Kerr of the band Simple Minds in 1984, and had a daughter, Yasmin, with him in 1985. They divorced in 1990.
She married artist Lucho Brieva in 1997, and lived with him in London until they separated in 2002.
Hynde, along with Curved Air’s Sonja Kristina, sang backing vocals on Mick Farren’s Vampires Stole My Lunch Money 1978 album. Hynde sang a duet with INXS on their album Full Moon, Dirty Hearts in 1993. Hynde 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.
Chrissie Hynde has been in the news in recent years as a high-profile animal rights activist. She is a supporter of PETA. Chrissie now wears three strands of tulsi-mala, a sacred necklace from India. She also chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily.
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 on the US television comedy Friends. Also, in 1995, Hynde sang a cover of “Love Can Build a Bridge” with Cher & Neneh Cherry. Eric Clapton appeared on the track, supplying the lead guitar solo that is featured in the song’s instrumental bridge.In 1997, Hynde battled Rush Limbaugh over his use of her song “My City Was Gone”, coming to an accommodation in 1999. Later that year, 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.” 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 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’s downtown. She was also the vocalist on Tube & Berger’s 2004 #1 Dance Top 40 track “Straight Ahead”. The track gave Hynde her first US #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. In 2005, Hynde collaborated with Incubus on a song called “Neither Of Us Can See”. The song is on the soundtrack album for Stealth. Hynde appears on the Cheap Trick track “Walk Away”
To considerable fanfare, Hynde opened a vegetarian restaurant in Akron, Ohio in 2007 called The VegiTerranean. The restaurant, which opened in November, 2007, serves fusion Italian-vegetarian food. The atmosphere is casual and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Prior to the restaurant’s opening, in September 15, 2007, she performed three songs at the restaurant with an acoustic guitarist, Adam Seymour, the lead guitarist of The Pretenders.