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The Pretenders Biography

Home > Music > P > Pretenders, The > Biography

Birth Place: Hereford, England
Years Active: 1978–Present
Genres: Rock, New Wave, Punk

Pretenders is an English-American rock band formed in Hereford, England in March 1978. The original band consisted of initiator and main songwriter Chrissie Hynde (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), James Honeyman-Scott (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), Pete Farndon (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Martin Chambers (drums, backing vocals, percussion). The band has experienced drug-related deaths of the members, and numerous subsequent personnel changes have taken place over the years, with Hynde as the sole continual member.

The band's first single, a cover of The Kinks song “Stop Your Sobbing,” produced by Nick Lowe, was released in January 1979 and gained critical attention. It was followed in June with “Kid,” and then in November the band got to #1 in the U.K. with “Brass in Pocket,” which was also successful in the U.S., reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

Their debut album, “Pretenders,” was released in 1980, and was a success in both the U.K. and the U.S., both critically and commercially. It reached #1 on the U.K. Albums chart and #9 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and was certified platinum by the RIAA.

In 1981 the EP, “Extended Play” was released, containing the U.K. and U.S. success “Message of Love” and “Talk of the Town” and a live version of “Precious,” recorded in Central Park.

Their second full-length album, “Pretenders II,” was released in 1981, reaching #7 U.K. Albums chart and #10 on the Billboard 200. “Pretenders II” included the “Extended Play” singles, the MTV video success, “Day After Day,” and popular album-radio tracks “The Adultress,” “Birds of Paradise,” “Bad Boys Get Spanked” and “The English Roses.”

Released in 1982, their version of, “Back on the Chain Gang,” became their biggest success in the U.S., staying at #5 for three consecutive weeks.

“Learning to Crawl,” was released in 1984 featuring “Middle of the Road” which reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album went to #5 on the Billboard 200 and #11 on the U.K. Albums chart.

“Get Close” was released in 1986 and peaked at #6 on the U.K. Albums chart. It included the Top 10 singles, “Don't Get Me Wrong” and “Hymn to Her” a #8 success in the U.K.

Two new songs, “If There Was a Man” and “Where Has Everybody Gone?” were released on the soundtrack of the 1987 James Bond film, “The Living Daylights,” and were used instrumentally by John Barry in several scenes.

There was a hiatus in musical activity for Hynde until 1990, when Hynde hired session players and released “Packed!” Hynde was the only person pictured anywhere on the album, and was the only official member of the band.

When “Last of the Independents” was released in 1994, it had reasonable overall commercial success, certifying gold in the U.S and peaking at #8 on the U.K. Albums chart. Lead single “Night In My Veins” was a minor success in the U.S. The second single was the album's centrepiece ballad “I'll Stand by You” which received substantial airplay, and was a Top 10 success in the U.S. and U.K.

In 1997 Pretenders supplied two tracks for the soundtrack of the Ridley Scott film “G. I. Jane” including, “Goodbye” and “The Homecoming.”

“Viva el Amor” was released in 1999, and was followed in 2002 by “Loose Screw.” The Pretenders' album “Break up the Concrete” was released through Shangri-La Music in 2008. It was the band's first Top 40 album in the U.S. in 22 years.