Chrissie Hynde’s career has always been rough and fluid: an attitude of control against rock’n’roll romanticism. She is a pragmatist who is also devoted to the ineffable power of music, its influence spanning the boundaries of her obsession with teenage AM radio and in a gnawing need to lead a band and respond with her own indelible voice.
Over the past 40 years, the music of the Pretenders has been an integral part of many lives, with Hynde’s punk rendition of classic rock belted out loud, lips curled. The group’s first LP, released in 1979 and 1980, set out their philosophy: the collective is stronger than the individual, and any good song is a team sport. “I’m not a solo artist,” she said Rolling stone Last year. “My position in any band I’ve been in is to prepare the guitarist to score a goal.”
“I think rock bands are all about electric guitars,” she says now, when that line is asked again. “The electric guitar was my first love. In general, the singer is one thing – the Rolling Stones are a good example. Everyone watches Mick Jagger, but everyone really likes Keith Richards because Keith is the guitarist. But when Keith walks over to the mic and does a song, halfway the place empties and heads to the bar for a drink. I love Mick Jagger and I want him to play guitar, but I don’t want to see him play guitar. I want to see him be Mick Jagger. We get used to seeing our heroes doing what they do best.
The rhythm will get you
Hynde’s guitar style is rooted in the concrete rhythms of the pop and soul records she grew up on, with plenty of right-handedness supporting a series of Pretenders lead players starring the late James Honeyman-Scott, whose the edgy and crisp melodies influenced everyone. from Johnny Marr to Jeff Buckley. “I just wanted to be a rhythm player. I shouldn’t say ‘only’, that’s my favorite part of the song, ”she said. “James Brown’s guitarist was playing a figure throughout the song, and I love that. Some amazing songs are written around a chord, and everything is built around it. All the big groups had a strong rhythm guitar element.
Hynde’s appetite for utility extends to his guitars. She is not a reducer and prefers to see the instrument as a tool, as a means to achieve an end in a creative way. “It’s like a pencil, you know?” I use the guitar to write songs, ”she says. “I love to play, but I don’t consider myself a guitarist. The only time I think I can play is when I’m trying to show someone else who can’t. Then I’m like ‘My God, I’m fine.’ “
But that’s not to say that Hynde’s sight with a waist-tight Telecaster hasn’t become iconic. And, for much of its career, it was a particular Telecaster: a 1965 model painted a shade of blue that always reminded it of a Corvette paint job. She bought it from one of the legendary stores in Manhattan’s upscale neighborhoods (probably Manny’s, but she can’t remember for sure) and played it for 39 years, alternating with what was probably her first. Tele (bought on Denmark Street in London) and a gold glitter guitar which she describes as a holdover from an “excessive emergency phase”.
Now that darling blue guitar forms the basis of his signature Fender. The Chrissie Hynde Telecaster features an alder body, maple neck and rosewood fingerboard with a 7.25 inch radius, as well as a chrome mirror pickguard. Along with the standard Tele setup of a volume knob, tone knob, and three-way pickup selector are retro ’50s-style single-coil pickups cast to match the ensemble. ‘origin of Chrissie’. In a deviation from the original, it is equipped with lockable tuners. “I kind of won by default by having this guitar made,” she says. “It took a long time for someone to tell me about it because I couldn’t see why. My guitar technician said to me, ‘Well that will encourage other people to join bands’, and the word ‘band’ is what got me excited.
“I don’t know when I got my first TV, and I don’t know why,” she continues. “I think it was the white I still have. Mostly, I just love the feel of it. I’m not technical, but I know when I like the sound, and I feel good. The first time I took one I thought, “I’ll never be able to stand for half an hour with this.” It seems heavy. But now I can spin it like a stick. You just get used to the weight, and they’re not as heavy as some guitars, so it takes a lot of muscle just to hold them.
Rubber meets the road
Hynde was born in Akron, Ohio in the early fall of 1951. In her teens, she listened to everything cool and exciting from her radio, from the Beatles and Stones to Hendrix, BB King, Zappa and the Velvet Underground. as FM signals burst into his life. She wanted to go out: adventure and music and groups. She finally found it in the London punk scene in the late ’70s, falling with Lemmy, the Clash, the Pistols and putting songs together in squats and beds on an unamplified electric. “There was nothing else to do,” she said. “There was usually someone in the next room that I didn’t want to disturb. I never had my own studio. That’s still pretty much how I do things.
“I just wanted to play in a band,” she adds. “I didn’t really think that would happen. I was already too old, as far as I felt. I was maybe 24 or 25. For me, it was already too late. But others did. The New York Dolls were my age. So I thought, ‘Damn, I’m doing it.’ What was I looking for? I was just desperate. I was trying to be part of a group with anyone. It was me at the bus stop with my guitar, I was waiting. I didn’t know what else to do.
Hynde is tough. Always has been. There is an abruptness about her that is partly an American birthright, partly a punk school, all of her own. She’s made her way through male-dominated scene after male-dominated scene, but she has no interest in being identified as a trailblazer, as a role model. “You just tell them to fuck off.” Problem solved, ”she says when asked about female artists who are pressured by guys in the industry about their career goals or their image.
“You are not indebted to these clowns. You don’t owe them anything. I have been offered offers to be a solo artist by good people. Jake Riviera said, “Do you want to be on Stiff? And I said, ‘Well, yeah, but wait till I get a band.’ Nothing tempted me, even a great offer like that of a big record company. I knew what I wanted was a band. I was going to hold on and if that didn’t happen I would just have to wait and see. I’m not saying I know anyone better than anyone else, but if a record company told me I had to dress a certain way, I’d tell the guy to go stick it.
The Pretenders have revolved around Hynde’s writing – and an almost unprecedented talent for a killer cover version – for decades, overcoming the loss of Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon to drug overdoses after the release of the band’s second album. Since then, Hynde has regularly turned to outside voices and session players, including a high-profile partnership with fellow Akron escapee Dan Auerbach in 2016. Alone, but last year Hate for sale felt like coming home in a way. It featured founding drummer Martin Chambers for the first time since 2002 Loose screw, with Hynde playing lead guitarist James Walbourne, a Londoner with an ear for a jagged rock riff.
“When I first met James at Marylebone, I said, ‘Okay, we’ll have a rehearsal.’ As soon as I saw him standing there holding the guitar, I knew he was going to be in it, ”Hynde says. ” I threw away I will stay by your side, and I immediately knew. As soon as I saw him play a ballad, I was like, “This guy is a rock guitarist I can count on.” And I was right. When you see a guy who plays rock’n’roll guitar, a real player, walking down the street, if you’ve never met or seen them before, you already know they’re guitarists. They don’t look like the others, the real guitar heroes.
Hynde might not think of himself as part of that particular group, but a lot of people will. There is a healthy self-deprecating streak at work all the time, even though she dodged the heirloom heirloom law by continuing to make records that need our attention. Her songs have been covered by everyone from Girls Aloud to Jawbreaker, but hearing her say it is probably just because they have good bones. “I like that three to four minute format and the radio, but I don’t know if there was anything particularly original there, except I guess my voice and my songs,” she says. “But everyone’s vocals and songs are original to them.”
To learn more about the Fender Chrissie Hynde Telecaster, visit fender.com.