What I Learned from Chrissie Hynde
I was lucky to grow up in an era of real powerful frontwomen, so I had some examples to look to when I was ready to lead a band. There were the singers who fronted awesome bands, like Debbie Harry and Belinda Carlisle, but, oh, the ones who sang and played guitar! Joan Jett was and is the coolest, and I think of her every time I put on a pair of leather pants. But, I learned the most from Chrissie Hynde, because of how hard she worked to get and keep a band.
I didn’t know this until I read Johnny Rotten’s biography, but Chrissie Hynde used to hang out with them in London in the ’70s. She was always surrounded by a bunch of dudes in bands while she was writing songs and doing solo stuff, and busting her ass trying to get some people together, being the one without the band. She went years banging her head against that wall.
Then the Pretenders came together and she released the first number one single of the 1980s.
I told this story to myself like a mantra. It was my bedtime story. From about 2006 to 2013, I was surrounded by dudes in bands, working on my solo stuff, busting my ass trying to find the right group of people to play with. Knowing that Chrissie Hynde had spent years going to her friends’ shows and then crying out of frustration on the subway home made it easier for me not to cry. She did the heavy lifting on that one. She showed it was possible. And she was right.
Now that I have my own band, I still look to her example because she never had it easy, even with all the hits. A lot of fucked-up things happened to her and the Pretenders, but she never stopped making music. She just released an album, looks awesome, and is still rocking out. Chrissie Hynde, I hope it’s okay if I think of you as my rock and roll mother.