Chrissie Hynde feels “guilty” over the deaths of her Pretenders bandmates.
The 72-year-old rock star shot to fame in the 1970s band but admitted all these years later that 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, or James Honeyman-Scott, who passed away a year earlier at the age of just 25.
She told Record Collector Magazine: “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’. 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, and 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 ‘Back on the Chain Gang’ hitmakers are still together today, although the current lineup includes bassist Nick Wilkinson, lead guitarist James Walbourne, pedal steel guitarist Eric Heywood and keyboardist Carwyn Ellis alongside Chrissie.
While Chrissie still regards drummer Martin Chambers as a member of the band,but she noticed he was “struggling” to perform at a memorial concert for late Foo Fighters star Taylor Hawkins – who died in 2022 at the age of 50 – and admitted she is “nervous” to put him back on the road again.
She said: “When Taylor Hawkins died, we had Martin come to play with us on this tribute [concert at Wembley, organised by Dave Grohl]. I could tell Martin was struggling after three really bombastic songs. I don’t feel it’s necessarily right, talking about him behind his back here, but I do have to explain it from a musical fan point of view. It’s not like I’ve retired Martin, but I’m a bit nervous about him on the road, because he’s had some health issues, and seeing Taylor go that way at a much younger age.”