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(Credit: Alamy/Far Out)


How Chrissie Hynde inspired Madonna to pop greatness


It’s always amazing to hear about the ways that artists inspire one another to be the amazing creatives that they go on to become. And evidently, Madonna is no exception. Even though she’s an absolute icon and it can be hard to even imagine where she got some of her ideas from, everybody draws inspiration from somewhere, even the greats.

So, if we’re getting into one of the people who inspired Madonna, we don’t have to look any further than Chrissie Hynde. An American singer-songwriter best known for her work in The Pretenders, Hynde became the definition of female empowerment during her tenure. Not only is her voice and style of singing iconic and recognisable, but the songwriting itself and the music The Pretenders produced during their run was wildly influential, eventually earning Hynde a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

However, it was long before this that Madonna found some spark in seeing Hynde perform. In an interview in 1994, she recalled, “I saw her play in Central Park [in August 1980, performing with the Pretenders]. She was amazing: the only woman I’d seen in performance where I thought, yeah, she’s got balls, she’s awesome! … It gave me courage, inspiration, to see a woman with that kind of confidence in a man’s world.”

Even though there were a lot more female-led and women-fronted acts by that time than there ever had been before, it definitely wasn’t the norm or the majority, which makes sense as to why Madonna would have found the whole performance so impressive.

One thing to note about this interaction is that Hynde is only seven years older than Madonna, so one might consider the two of them to be peers—albeit in very different parts of the industry. It’s enough to make one wonder how Madonna would feel about it having been so sparked and inspired by seeing her perform with such courage and confidence. It’s actually pretty amazing no matter who you are or when you consider it.

Another noteworthy detail is that Madonna saw The Pretenders in 1980, right in the early stages of her career. While there’s a strong case to suggest Madonna could have reached the pinnacle of pop all on her own, the influence of Hynde, namely her no-holds-barred attitude, would supplement Madge’s natural talent with a superlative vigour.

Women supporting one another is an amazing thing, especially in male-dominated industries, and Madonna’s story of finding inspiration by seeing Chrissie Hynde is enough to remind us of how important that is to this day.