Chrissie Hynde admits guilt over deaths of Pretenders band members

11 September 2023, 14:04 | Updated: 11 September 2023, 15:46

The Pretenders in 1979, shortly before their No 1 hit Brass In Pocket: Pete Farndon, Martin Chambers, Chrissie Hynde and James Honeyman-Scott.
The Pretenders in 1979, shortly before their No 1 hit Brass In Pocket: Pete Farndon, Martin Chambers, Chrissie Hynde and James Honeyman-Scott. Picture: Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

The singer-songwriter wishes she'd "done better" over the drug use that killed Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott 40 years ago.

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Radio X

By Radio X

Chrissie Hynde has opened up over the deaths of her Pretenders bandmates four decades ago.

Hynde shot to fame in the late 1970s with the success of her band, but she has admitted that 40 years on, she "did not discourage" the drug-taking that led to the death of bandmates Pete Farndon, who died in 1983 at the age of 30, and James Honeyman-Scott, who passed away a year earlier at the age of just 25.

Speaking to Record Collector, she admitted "I am guilty. It's not a big word if you are guilty. It's big if you feel guilty and you're not guilty. But if you really are guilty, then you should put your hand up and say, 'Guilty as charged'.

Chrissie Hynde with ex-Pretender (and ex-Smith, of course) Johnny Marr at Glastonbury 2023
Chrissie Hynde with ex-Pretender (and ex-Smith, of course) Johnny Marr at Glastonbury 2023. Picture: Jim Dyson/Redferns/Getty

"Well, I didn't discourage the drug-taking, and I was part of it. So, you know, not that I was their mother, and we went on the road, and it was very hardcore."

Farndon was dismissed from the band in June 1982 over his use of heroin, two days before Honeyman-Scott was found dead from heart failure due to cocaine intolerance. Hynde wrote the songs Back On The Chain Gang was written as a tribute to the guitarist.

Tragically, Farndon died a year later on 14th April 1983 from a heroin overdose, leaving Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers as the only surviving Pretenders.

She went on: "I was having problems with Pete – so, perhaps not guilty, but there's an element of wishing you'd done better.

"Since Pete and Jimmy died and because I've had to replace people, it's now kind of like a Pretenders tribute band, named The Pretenders."

The band are still together today and played a surprise set at Glastonbury, where the group were joined by guests Johnny Marr (who briefly joined the band immediately after the split of The Smiths) and Dave Grohl.

The current line up of the Pretenders is Hynde, James Walbourne (guitars), Kris Sonne (drums) and Dave Page (bass). Carwyn Ellis (keyboards and guitars), Chris Hill (double bass) and Jonny Greenwood (string arrangements) all contribute to the band's forthcoming new album, Relentless, which is released on 15th September.

Original drummer Chambers joined the band for a set at the Taylor Hawkins tribute show at Wembley Stadium last year.

In August, Hynde joined Guns N'Roses onstage in Boston for a rendition of the band's track Bad Obsession. The Pretenders supported GNR at their Hyde Park show earlier in the summer.

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