With her band the Pretenders, Hynde has blazed a defiant trail through rock’n’roll for four decades. Just don’t call her a role model – or invite her to an awards event
That was 40 years ago,” sighs Chrissie Hynde with what can only be described as an auditory eye roll. “I’ve talked about starting this band so much, I don’t even know what I’m talking about now.” While Hynde’s band the Pretenders are part of an increasingly small number of groups still working after four decades, Hynde is not one to dwell on the past. She has little use for nostalgia, especially when the Pretenders have a new album out, Alone, and the group is on the road touring through North America with Stevie Nicks.
Hynde’s lack of sentimentality extends to her own legacy, too, referring to herself simply as “a jobbing musician on the road with a band” and scoffing at the idea that musicians might be daunted to play with her in the studio. She also doesn’t want the accolades that come with such a long and successful career. “I fucking loathe the Grammys with a vengeance,” she said. “The whole idea of it, I don’t understand it, I don’t respect it, I don’t get it at all. I think it’s bullshit. Nor was she flattered to be inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. “I call it the Rock and Roll Hall of Shit,” she says. “It’s everything that rock’n’roll isn’t. It sort of desecrates the name of rock’n’roll.”
In short, Hynde is not in rock’n’roll for the prizes: it’s in her blood. “If you’re an artist you need to work,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, who you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re 12, if you draw, you draw. If you’re 85 and you paint, you paint.” And if you’re Chrissie Hynde, 65, you head back to the studio to make another album. “I’ll make music as long as I can sing and stand up and hold a guitar and I feel like doing this,” she says.
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