01 November 2009

The Pretenders - Chrissie Hynde In 1981...

There was no House Music in 1980. It did not exist. No true Hip Hop scene either (we'd just experienced the first Rap record to chart).

But 1980 threw us a few final Disco classics, brought us
Buster Bloodvessel and Bad Manners, David Bowie's weird and wonderful Ashes To Ashes with its groundbreaking video, and The Cure with A Forest. Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet hit the charts as The New Romantics began their reign, and it was a golden year for new boys Madness. In fact, all in all, 1980 was an excellent year for the pop charts.

19 January 1980, the decade got its first new chart topper - Brass In Pocket by The Pretenders.

With a title like that, some think it an appropriate first new Number 1 for the '80s. Perhaps it is - although in 1980 the financial climate was grim and
yuppies unknown.

Brass In Pocket was gloriously downbeat music-wise, whilst the lyrics were personable and optimistic.

Here's a small but (I think) fascinating glimpse into the world of Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde from the Daily Mirror, July 27, 1981.


Now rock star Chrissie really is mean and moody

She looks as though she has just got off the pillion of a greaser's motorbike.

Big leather jacket, black eyeliner, stark white face and a street fighter's stride.

The tough image would force a building worker to think twice before whistling.

But the mean, moody look has made Chrissie Hynde star rock singer with The Pretenders. Now the moodiness is for real, because Chrissie is not sure anymore she wants to be a star.

"I could go back to being a dropout. I was really good at that. No stage nerves, no worries or responsibilities. Just a bag on my back, moving around, sleeping on somebody's floor, earning a few pounds here and there.

"That was much more me than all this."

She means the top hotels, the chauffeur-driven limousines and the shyness she has to fight each time The Pretenders appear in concert.

"I didn't go into the rock world for money and stardom, or to join the superstar sex round their swimming pools. I like writing songs and playing my guitar. A recording contract came along. At the time, it seemed more fun than being a waitress. Now, I'm not so sure."

Rock fans might find that a little difficult to swallow. But the stage punk has little in common with the thoughtful, 29-year-old Chrissie voicing her doubts.

Chrissie left her native American city, Ohio, in 1973, and bummed around London for four years until she met Pete Farndon, Martin Chambers and James Honeyman-Scott - the three Hereford men who eventually made up The Pretenders.

After Brass In Pocket reached number one, the band became one of the biggest names on the international rock circuit.

A tour of Britain, America, Japan and Australia - to coincide with their new album Pretenders II - ends in three days.

Non-smoker Chrissie hardly drinks. And has no interest in the rock tour diet of sex and drugs.

"Cocaine, it's the new calling card when you're on the road. Strange people appear backstage with little packets. They say, want me to cut you up some fun? And I say, get your ass outa here.

"Believe me, it's difficult trying to stay sober and clear-headed around rock people.

"Everyone is so intent on getting high. A little bourbon here, more beer over there.

"Meanwhile, I'm trying to smile at the jokes, keep up with the fun, and all the time I'd rather be sitting in a room by myself."

She gives the impression that her life is one long solo act.

Try steering the conversation to men, and a series of no-entry signs appear.

Mention love, and she clams up tighter than her torn, drainpipe jeans.

"My man of the moment?" She repeated the question with a shocked expression.

"I don't have men for the moment. I'm not like that

"I've never had a boyfriend until now. There is a man in my life now, but I'm not telling who he is or what he does.

"I'm not denying him because I want the fans to think I'm wild, free and available. I was always a loner before I met him.

"Friends filled my life, that was enough."

She hums, she plays with her hair and eventually admits that life is better with love.

"I suppose there is some colour now. Yeah, colours like black and blue."

Later, she walked back to her West End flat chatting happily, then she saw a poster advertising The Pretenders.

She paused and said: "When I see pictures all over the walls like that, I know there's no escape."

The first two Pretenders albums, released in 1980 and 1981.

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