- Category : Musician - Rock
- Type : GE
- Profile : 3/6 - Martyr / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Consciousness 3
Christine Ellen "Chrissie" Hynde (born 7 September 1951) is an American musician best known as the leader of the rock/new wave band the Pretenders. She is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and has been the only constant member of the band throughout its history.
Early life and career
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 was for some time 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 on the campus during the Kent State shootings; she knew Jeffrey Miller, one of those killed).
Hynde also developed an interest in the UK music magazine NME. She eventually saved enough money to 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 she 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-little-known clothing store, SEX. Eventually, she tried to convince a very young Sid Vicious (who used to hang around at SEX) to marry her, just in order for her to get a work permit. Hynde then attempted to start a band in France before her return to Cleveland in 1975.
Hynde went back to France in 1976 to try to form a band, but it did not work out. She left Kent for the drummer of the Frenchies. For one show at the famous 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 the band became The Damned. After a brief spell in the Johnny Moped band, 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 two child-killers, the band consisted of future Visage front man Steve Strange on vocals, Vince Ely on drums, and Mark Ryan (aka 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 the 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 gigs in a club in Paris. The single was released in January 1979 and hit the Top 30 in UK. 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 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. Martin Chambers left the band in the mid-1980s. Amidst the ever changing lineup, the controversial Hynde endured as the sole original Pretender until Chambers' return in the mid-1990s.
Throughout the mid-1980s 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).
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 album. Hynde is unofficially credited with adding the lines "Cartier, Cartier" in a cameo on the 1983 song "Add It Up" by The Kinks. 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 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 was 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.
Perhaps 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 effectively. 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 city. She was also the vocalist on Tube & Berger's 2004 No. 1 Hot Dance Airplay track "Straight Ahead". The track gave Hynde her first US 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, Hynde 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 City.
On 17 October 2008, she was an opening act for fellow Akron-area musicians Devo at a special benefit concert at the Akron Civic Theater for the 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.
Chrissie 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 24 August 2010. Several stops on the tour were recorded and sold on USB flash drives.
On 5 February 2011, Hynde and the Pretenders performed live on CMT Crossroads with Faith Hill and her band, including songs from both catalogs.
Chrissie along with John Cale and Nick Cave, played on BBC for the Songwriter's Circle program on 9 July 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 had a daughter in 1983 with Ray Davies of The Kinks. She then married Jim Kerr, lead singer of the band Simple Minds, and had another daughter. They lived in South Queensferry. They later divorced, and Hynde married artist Lucho Brieva in 1997, with whom she has one son. They separated in 2002.
Hynde lives in London, England, and also has an apartment in the Northside Lofts in her hometown of Akron.
She was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by the Guardian in March 2013.
Hynde is a vegetarian and animal rights activist. She is a supporter of PETA and the animal rights group Viva!. Her 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 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. Prior to the restaurant's opening, on 15 September 2007, Hynde performed three songs at the restaurant with an acoustic guitarist, 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 2 October 2011, due to the economic climate, according to Hynde.