Happy Birthday: Chrissie Hynde
Today is Chrissie Hynde’s birthday, and although she’s known best as the lead singer of The Pretenders, she’s done plenty of stuff outside of that great band. Indeed, she’s done so much that we actually spotlighted a number of these instances for her birthday last year, and since there were so many more left to talk about, we decided to do it again this year.
1. Chris Spedding, “Wild in the Street” (1977): While living in Paris, Chrissie was part of a band called The Frenchies – yes, really – and based on an interview she did with Melody Maker in 1979, found the experience to be less than spectacular, describing The Frenchies as “basically just another band” and summing up her financial situation by noting that “starving in France is pretty much the same as starving anywhere else.” She was particulary grouchy when the band played the Red festival, but it did lead to a musical opportunity for Hynde. "I was getting very pissed off because the promoters kept putting us further and further back in the running order until we were due to go on at 4am or something, she told Melody Maker. “And I can hardly speak French and there's no one speaking English, and I'm getting a bit out of it and more angry and rather depressed, so someone tells me that Chris Spedding is in town to record an album. I'm dying to see an English face, so the next day I find his hotel and there he is, sitting in the coffee shop. Sigh of relief. So life is made a little more bearable hanging out with him and his crowd while he's recording.
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2. Mick Farren, “Half Price Drinks” (1978): Farren, who came to fame as the lead singer of The Deviants, once told L.A. Weekly, “I’m a lousy singer but an excellent rock star.” He was also a pretty swell judge of up-and-coming talent, having given Hynde a break early in her career: if you listen closely, you can hear her on backing vocals.
3. Cheap Trick, “Walk Away” (1987): After scoring a major comeback via their epic ballad “The Flame” and their cover of “Don’t Be Cruel,” Cheap Trick decided that they wanted to ease their way back toward the sort of material that they’d been doing during their ‘70s heyday. While this didn’t lead them into the same level of success, the resulting album – BUSTED – certainly didn’t lack for talented guests: in addition to Hynde, who sings on this track, Cheap Trick also corralled Mick Jones (Foreigner), Russell Mael (Sparks), and Kim Bullard (Poco) to assist them.
4. Naomi Campbell, “Love and Tears” (1994): Yes, that Naomi Campbell. No, we didn’t realize she’d recorded an album, either. But between Europe and Japan, the album sold more than a million copies, and it also featured some rather fascinating artists involved in putting it together, including Gavin Friday (The Virgin Prunes), Tim Simenon (Bomb the Bass), PM Dawn, Youth, and Bruce Roberts, with Campbell covering T. Rex’s “Ride a White Swan” and Donna Summer’s “All Through the Night.”
5. Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry with Eric Clapton, “Love Can Build a Bridge” (1990): Written by Naomi Judd, Paul Overstreet, and John Barlow Jarvis, this song is best known to American audiences for the version recorded and released by The Judds. In the UK, however, Cher, Chrissie, and Cherry teamed up to cover the song in 1995 as the official single for Comic Relief. It worked out well for the charity, climbing all the way to #1 on the UK Singles chart.
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