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.
Hynde now lives in London, England, and also has an apartment in the Highland Square neighborhood of her hometown of Akron.
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. She knew Jeffrey Miller, one of the fatalities.
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 (with whom she became involved) 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 (unsuccessful) stab at forming a band. She found her way back to London in the midst of the 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 of Culture Club fame and Tony James of Generation X also auditioned. During this period she became closely associated with the Sex Pistols (though not musically), and spent a good deal of time with Sid Vicious. She commented in an early 1990s interview that she "almost" became "Mrs. Vicious" in the late 1970s (prior to Vicious and Nancy Spungen's fatal decline into the drug world). 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 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 also spent a short time with The Moors Murderers in 1978. Named after two child-rapists, the band consisted of future Visage front man Steve Strange on vocals, Vince Ely on drums, and Mark Ryan (aka The Kid) and Chrissie on guitar. The band's name alone was enough to start controversy and Chrissie soon distanced herself from the group, as noted in the NME:
"I'm not in the group, I only rehearsed with them," she said. "Steve Strange and Sue 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.
The band's early success was followed by their first gigs in Britain where they earned wide critical acclaim. 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 traded on the huge success of this first album (for Sire Records) for some time, as it wasn't released around the world until well into 1979 (some charts consider it the best album of 1980, for example). The band released an EP album in early 1981 while contractual issues were resolved, then Pretenders II later in the summer. These albums were not well received by critics (though hits such as "Talk of the Town" and "Message of Love" were on both). By the summer of 1982, drug use within the band was creating serious problems for Hynde. The Pretenders lineup would change repeatedly over the next decade as a result of drug related deaths and internal conflict. Honeyman-Scott died of heart failure in June 1982, just days after Farndon had been fired from the band over his own behaviour/drug use. Farndon died (a drug related death) less than a year later. Martin Chambers left the band in the mid 1980's. Amidst the ever changing lineup, the controversial Hynde endured as the sole original Pretender until Chambers' return in the mid 1990's.
Hynde appeared at Wembley Stadium on 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.
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. Her guitar of choice is a Fender Telecaster.
Throughout the mid 1980's and early 1990s, Hynde employed a string of session and professional musicians within the band, always keeping the name Pretenders. With many of the albums through this period, the only constant presence is her own, and the album art often reflects this (using her picture alone in some cases).
A new album has just been recorded with James Walbourne stepping in as guitarist in place of Adam Seymour. A sample song from the album, Boots of Chinese Plastic, is available for listening on Chrissie Hynde's Myspace page. The band will perform several songs, old and new at the Koko Club in London on the 30th of July for an Itunes special, with tickets only able to be won and even then only by U.K. residents.
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. Hynde also recorded a cover of Morrissey's "Everyday is Like Sunday", which is available on The Pretenders album "Pirate Radio" as well as providing backing vocals on Morrissey's single "My Love Life" in 1991.
Chrissie Hynde has been in the news in recent years as a high-profile animal rights activist. She is a supporter of PETA She is a confirmed vegetarian, and has also spoken out in favour of music file-sharing as a way for new artists to be heard.
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 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, 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.