Look back at Chrissie Hynde’s 10 pieces of advice for women in rock music
If there’s one woman in rock and roll that gets to offer advice to all those young girls looking to pick up a guitar and form a band, it’s The Pretenders’ uncompromising frontwoman Chrissie Hynde. The singer has had her hand in more bands than can fit on a punk gig lineup and, back in 1994, she offered some advice for all those women looking to follow in her footsteps.
One of the leading ladies of the punk swell that enraptured the world during the late-seventies, Hynde has been at the forefront of rock and roll ever since. With The Pretenders she forged her name and ended up singing with notable acts such as Frank Sinatra and Cher, to name just a few—but her story began with a lot of disappointment at the beginning.
Hynde found her love for rock and roll at the young age of 14 after seeing Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels play at a local fair in her hometown of Akron, Ohio. During the performance the members of the band began fighting with one another, ending in bloody noses and bruised egos. Hynde had seen enough—this was her path.
After briefly being a part of a band with Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, the singer moved to London and found punk at its fiery beginnings. Hynde even worked at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop SEX in Chelsea alongside many of the members of the Sex Pistols and, at one point, even asked Vicious and Rotten to marry her to secure a work Visa. A wild time.
It didn’t end there. Hynde also tried to start a band with The Clash’s Mick Jones and was in a band called Masters of Backside before they kicked her out and made the big time with their name changed to The Damned. In 1978, Hynde would form The Pretenders alongside Pete Farndon, James Honeyman-Scott and Martin Chambers and seal her place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 2005.
All that means that if anyone is equipped to give advice on how to successfully navigate the pitfalls of rock and roll it’s Chrissie Hynde. Here the singer offers her 10 pieces of advice for “chick rockers”
Chrissie Hynde’s advice for women in rock:
1. Don’t moan about being a chick, refer to feminism or complain about sexist discrimination. We’ve all been thrown down the stairs, and fucked about, but no one wants to hear a whining female. Write a loosely disguised song about it instead and clean up.
2. Never pretend to know more than you do. If you don’t know chord names, refer to the dots. Don’t go near the desk unless you plan on becoming an engineer.
3. Make the other band members look and sound good. Bring out the best in them; that’s your job. Oh, and you better sound good too.
4. Do not insist in working with “females.” That’s just more b.s. Get the best man for the job. If it happens to a woman, great – you’ll have someone to go to department stores with on tour instead of making one of the road crew go with you.
5. Try not to have a sexual relationship with the band. It always ends in tears.
6. Don’t think that sticking your boobs out and trying to look fuckable will help. Remember you’re in a rock and roll band. It’s not “fuck me,” it’s “fuck you”!
7. Don’t try to compete with the guys; it won’t impress anybody. Remember, one of the reasons they like you is because you don’t offer yet more competition to the already existing male egos.
8. If you sing, don’t “belt” or “screech.” No one wants to hear that shit; it sounds “hysterical.”
9. Shave your legs, for chrissakes!
10. Don’t take advice from people like me. Do your own thing always.
Alongside the likes of Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, Joan Jett, Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush, Grace Jones, Lydia Lunch and many more, Hynde has well established herself as one of rock music’s most enduring, respected and triumphed musicians.
Given her influence, Hynde has always been part of the discussion that links her to a pivotal moment in the rise and success of female musicians. Despite that, Hynde has always offered a straight bat when drawn into the conversation of her role: “There’s always been women doing this, just not that many,” she once said in an interview with The Guardian. “I don’t know what the feminists have to say about it. Over the years, you’d hear, ‘We weren’t encouraged.’ Well, I don’t think Jeff Beck’s mother was saying, ‘Jeffrey! What are you doing up in your room? Are you rehearsing up there?'”
She added: “No one was ever encouraged to play guitar in a band. But I never found it harder because I’m a woman. If anything I’ve been treated better. Guys will carry my guitars and stuff – who’s going to say no? Guys always tune my guitars, too.”