Akron native Chrissie Hynde is a rock pioneer and for decades the only constant in the lineup of 2005 Rock and Roll of Fame inductees, the Pretenders. Born on September 7, 1951, she was one of the first women to front a popular rock band - not only as the singer, but also as main songwriter and bandleader - presenting a hard, unsentimental image that was far removed from the likes of Linda Ronstadt or Stevie Nicks. She seemed tough, and her songs, including “Tattooed Love Boys,” “Up the Neck” and “The Phone Call,” could at times be unsparing, though she’d counterpoint those with sweeter tunes like “Kid” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”
In the early 1970s, Hynde moved to London in hopes of finding her footing in the music business. By 1978, budding vocalist and guitarist Hynde assembled the definitive Pretenders lineup with guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, bassist Pete Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers – all from rustic Hereford. The band took off almost instantly, mastering the blistering pace and aggression of punk (fitting as she was friendly with members of the Sex Pistols and The Clash) though with added dimension. Hynde's songs possessed the melodic sheen of well-turned pop yet employed unconventional time signatures and featured frequently blunt, psychosexual lyrics.
With Hynde at the helm, the Pretenders have released numerous singles, EPs and well-received full-lengths, such as the group's seminal 1980 self-titled debut, 1984's Learning to Crawl, 1986's Get Close and 1994's Last of the Independents, the latter containing the exquisite "I'll Stand By You." In 2010, Hynde teamed up with Welsh singer-songwriter JP Jones and band the Fairground Boys to record Fidelity! Last October, Hynde and Jones were interviewed by 107.3 FM radio personality Ravenna Miceli in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Alan Freed Studio. Hynde spoke of her Ohio roots, including "a huge turning point" when she saw Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels at Chippewa Lake Park; the power of radio and a time when "Cleveland had the best radio station ever;" and living in Parma Heights, where she "enjoyed many hours of Ghoulardi on television like the rest of us in Northeast Ohio." She and Jones also performed tracks from Fidelity! Listen to the full interview and performances by clicking here. Chrissie Hynde is among the female artists currently featured in the Women Who Rock exhibit on display though February 26, 2012 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. [Pictured above: Chrissie Hynde's leather jacket. She can be seen wearing this jacket on the cover of the Pretenders’ self-titled debut album.]