Childhood & Early Life
Chrissie Hynde was born on September 7, 1951, in Akron, Ohio, the United States, to Dolores and Melville, an ex-model and an employee of the Ohio Bell Telephone Company.
Although she was not much interested in studies, she graduated from Firestone High School in Akron and studied art at Kent State University for three years. While attending the university, she joined a band named Sat. Sun. Mat.
She had a deep regard for rock music and pop stars as a young woman. She frequently drove to Cleveland to see her “heroes” perform live. Soon she got into drugs, booze, bikers, and rock and roll. Eventually, in 1973, she left for London and discovered the emerging new rock wave called ‘punk’.
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In London, Chrissie Hynde worked in an architectural firm for eight months. Soon she met journalist Nick Kent and landed a job in the UK music magazine ‘NME’, where she wrote articles half-heartedly. Not satisfied with the job, she quit it and worked at a clothing store called SEX.
She visited France in 1976 and tried to form a band, which did not work out. She then joined the band The Frenchies. After the band’s original singer left, she took over as the lead singer. She eventually left the band and returned to London and got involved in the punk movement. In late 1976, she cleared an audition for band members for a new band that was named 999.
When the band 999 failed to take off, she joined Masters of the Backside as a guitarist. For some time she also played with the band Johnny Moped. In 1978, she joined the band The Moors Murderers for a short time.
She prepared a demo tape and gave it to Real Records owner Dave Hill in 1978. Impressed by her talent, he advised her to form a band. Soon she met bassist Pete Farndon and together they formed the band ‘The Pretenders’ after recruiting a couple of other musicians.
They produced and released the single ‘Stop Your Sobbing’ in January 1979, and performed their first gigs in a Paris club. The single reached the top 30 in the UK.
The band became famous with the release of their debut studio album ‘Pretenders’ on January 7, 1980. It was a cocktail of rock, punk and pop music and featured the singles ‘Stop Your Sobbing’, ‘Kid’ and ‘Brass in Pocket’.
The band released another album, ‘Extended Play’ in 1981. It included the songs ‘Message of Love’ and ‘Talk of the Town’, which were also part of their album ‘Pretenders II,’ released in the same year.
The album ‘Pretenders II’ received a mixed response as two of its hit songs were previously released. Some critics felt that many of the songs were similar to those in their debut album. Nonetheless, several songs of the album became successful over time.
In 1982, bassist Pete Farndon was fired from the band and guitarist Honeyman-Scott died at the age of 25. Drummer Martin Chambers also left the band in the mid-1980s. Amidst all these chaos, ‘The Pretenders’ released the third album ‘Learning to Crawl’ in 1984.
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After their fourth album ‘Get Close’ was released in 1986, their fifth album ‘Packed’ was released in 1990. Their sixth album ‘Last of the Independents’ was released in 1994. The band released many other albums in the ensuing years.
Hynde released her debut solo album ‘Stockholm’ on June 10, 2014. She co-wrote with Björn Yttling most of the tracks, except the songs ‘Like in the Movies’ and ‘Adding the Blue’, which she co-wrote with Joakim Åhlund. The album received mixed reviews.
In 2016, ‘The Pretenders’ released their album ‘Alone’, which received positive reviews. However, it failed to become a major commercial or critical success.
In the first week of its release, ‘The Pretenders’ debut album ‘Pretenders’ peaked at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and stayed there for four consecutive weeks. It reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA in 1982. The album was listed one of the best albums of all time by VH1.
’The Pretender’s’ fourth album ‘Get Close’, which was released in 1986, contained two hit singles ‘Don't Get Me Wrong’ and ‘My Baby,’ which reached number 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Chrissie Hynde had a relationship with Ray Davies of The Kinks and their daughter Natalie was born in 1983.
In 1984, she married Jim Kerr, a Scottish musician and lead singer of the band Simple Minds. Their daughter Yasmin was born in 1985. Hynde and Kerr divorced in 1990.
She married artist Lucho Brieva in 1997 and separated in 2002.
An animal rights activist and a supporter of PETA and Viva, she also supports anti-fur trade organization Respect for Animals, and appeared in a commercial 'Fur and Against' in 2002.
While she lives in London, she also has an apartment in Akron, Ohio. In November 2007, she opened a vegan restaurant in Akron called The VegiTerranean. Voted among the top five vegan restaurants in the U.S., it specialized in Italian-Mediterranean food. However, it was closed on October 2, 2011.
In 2013, her daughter Natalie was arrested after she had participated in a protest against felling of trees in Combe Haven in East Sussex, a county in South East England.
Hynde follows Vaishnavism, a branch of Hinduism, and visits India every year. She has also become a vegetarian. She said that she associates with meat-eaters with "distaste” and does not respect them.
Her autobiography, ‘Reckless: My Life as a Pretender’ was released on September 8, 2015.