Out Of The Vault - The Pretenders. September 14, 2013

- September 24, 2013

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Chrissie Hynde’s Birthday – September 7th

The Pretenders are an English-American rock band formed in Hereford, England, in March 1978. The original band comprised 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). Following the drug-related deaths of Honeyman-Scott and Farndon, the band has experienced numerous subsequent personnel changes, with Hynde as the only consistent member, and Chambers returning after an absence of several years.  Hynde, originally from Akron, Ohio, moved to London in 1973, working at the weekly music paper NME and at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's clothes store. She was involved with early versions of The Clash and The Damned and played in short-lived bands such as Masters of the Backside and The Moors Murderers. The Pretenders formed in 1978 after Dave Hill at Anchor Records heard some demos of Hynde's music. He arranged a rehearsal studio in Denmark Street, where a 3-piece band consisting of Hynde, Mal Hart on bass (he had played with Hynde and Steve Strange in the Moors Murderers), and Phil Taylor of Motörhead on drums played a selection of Hynde's original songs. Hynde then formed a band composed of Pete Farndon (who was later associated romantically with Hynde) on bass, James Honeyman-Scott on guitar, and Gerry Mcilduff replacing Jon Adkin on drums. This band, then without a name, recorded five tracks at Regents Park Studio in July 1978, including "Stop Your Sobbing." Shortly thereafter, Gerry Mcilduff was replaced on drums by Martin Chambers, and Hynde named the band "Pretenders".

The band's first single, a cover of The Kinks song "Stop Your Sobbing" (produced by Nick Lowe and recorded at the July Regents Park sessions) was released in January 1979 and gained critical attention. It was followed in June with "Kid," and then in January 1980 the band got to No. 1 in the UK with "Brass in Pocket," which was also successful in the US, reaching No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their self-titled debut album was released at the end of December 1979 and was a success in the United Kingdom and the United States both critically and commercially.

During March 1981, the EP Extended Play was released, containing the UK and US success "Message of Love" and "Talk of the Town", "Cuban Slide" and a live version of "Precious," recorded in Central Park.  The second full-length album, Pretenders II, was released during August 1981. 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".

Farndon was fired 14 June 1982 by Hynde. Two days later, on 16 June 1982, James Honeyman-Scott died of heart failure as a result of cocaine intolerance. Farndon was in the midst of forming a new band with former Clash drummer Topper Headon (who coincidentally, was battling heroin addiction and left the band, unable to cope), when he was found dead on 14 April 1983. After taking heroin and passing out, Farndon drowned in his bathtub, leaving the Pretenders with two living members.  Hynde continued with the band. During July 1982, just weeks after Honeyman-Scott's death, a caretaker team of Hynde, Chambers, Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremner and Big Country bassist Tony Butler was assembled to record the single "Back on the Chain Gang". The song was released in October, becoming their biggest success in the US, staying at No. 5 for three consecutive weeks. The single's B-side, "My City Was Gone" is now the theme music for The Rush Limbaugh Show.

Hynde then changed the lineup, keeping Chambers and adding Robbie McIntosh on guitar and Malcolm Foster on bass. The band's first album with this lineup, Learning to Crawl, was released during January 1984. "Middle of the Road" was this line-up's first single, released in the US in November 1983 and reached the Top 20 there. Hynde had had a daughter with Ray Davies during January 1983, the "kid" mentioned in the song. The US B-side, "2000 Miles", was released as a single in the UK. The album included a cover version of The Persuaders' "Thin Line Between Love and Hate", which featured Paul Carrack on keyboards. The 1985 Live Aid concert proved to be the last gig for this line-up.

The Pretenders – SPACE INVADER (THEME) - (Pete Farndon, James Honeyman-Scott).  Taken from “Pretenders”, the debut studio album by The Pretenders, released on 27 December 1979.

The Pretenders – STOP YOUR SOBBING [DEMO] – (Ray Davies).  First released on “Pretenders”, the debut studio album by The Pretenders, released on 27 December 1979.  Unreleased.

The Pretenders - THE WAIT [DEMO] – (Hynde, Farndon).  First released on “Pretenders”, the debut studio album by The Pretenders, released on 27 December 1979.  This track is from the Bonus disc, 2006 remastered CD edition.  Recorded April 12, 1978.


The Pretenders – BRASS IN POCKET – (Honeyman-Scott, Hynde).  Also first released on “Pretenders”, 1979.

The Pretenders – KID (Hynde). – Also first released on “Pretenders”, 1979.

The Pretenders  - I’LL STAND BY YOU - (Hynde, Steinberg, Kelly).  First released on “Last of the Independents”, the sixth album by The Pretenders, released in 1994.  Currently used in a commercial for Progressive Insurance.       


The Pretenders - TALK OF THE TOWN  [LIVE]  - (Hynde).  Originally released on “Pretenders II”, 1981.  This version recorded November 3, 1994.  Location unknown.  Unreleased.

The Pretenders – MY CITY WAS GONE [LIVE] - (Hynde). Originally released in October 1982 as the B-side to the single release of "Back on the Chain Gang"; the two-sided single was the comeback release for the band following the death of founding bandmember James Honeyman-Scott. The song was included on the album Learning to Crawl released in early 1984. This version recorded 1984, at the Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA.  Taken from a live radio broadcast.  Unreleased.

The Pretenders – MYSTERY ACHIEVEMENT  [LIVE]  – (Hynde).  First appeared on “Pretenders”, 1979.  Recorded Live on The Kid Jensen Show, BBC Radio 1, first transmission 17 July 1979.  Unreleased.



The Pretenders – CUBAN SLIDE – (Hynde, Honeyman-Scott).  Taken from “Pretenders”, Bonus disc, 2006 remastered CD edition.

The Pretenders – THUMBELINA – (Hynde).  Originally released on “Learning to Crawl”, the Pretenders' third album, released in 1984.

The Pretenders – BOOTS OF CHINESE PLASTIC - (Hynde).  Taken from “Break Up the Concrete”, the ninth studio album by The Pretenders, 2008.


The Pretenders – NOT A SECOND TIME – (John Lennon/Paul McCartney).  Released as a single in 1990.  Taken from the multi-CD Box Set “Pirate Radio”, released in 2006.             

The Pretenders – I’M NOT IN LOVE – (Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman of the 10cc).   One of the most covered songs in pop/rock history, "I'm Not in Love" has been recorded by Petula Clark, Richie Havens, Dee Dee Sharp-Gamble, Amy Grant, Grandaddy, Stanley Turrentine, Will to Power (whose version peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1991), The Pretenders, Mike Francis, Brotherhood of Man, Tori Amos, Unfinished Thought, Donny Osmond, Rick Springfield, Deni Hines, Queen Latifah, Lazlo Bane, and Peggy Lee. Unreleased.

The Pretenders – SUPERSTAR - (Delaney and Bonnie). – First recorded in 1969.   Notably recorded by The Carpenters and Luther Vandross.  This version is unreleased.

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