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(Credit: Drew de F Fawkes)

Music

Why Chrissie Hynde nearly married members of the Sex Pistols

Today, we all know Chrissie Hynde as the frontwoman of the pop-rock band Pretenders, but back in the mid-1970s, she was just another hopeful artist trying and failing to make her way into the music industry, whilst also endeavouring not to get kicked out of the United Kingdom. 

In 1973, Hynde left her native US and made her way to London. Having an art background, after studying in the art department at Kent State University, she quickly got a job in an architectural firm but left only eight months. She then met journalist Nick Kent, and landed a job working for the NME, writing what she called “half-baked philosophical drivel and nonsensical tirades”.

“I knew nobody when I got here. It was real good for my own personal discovery,” she explained to the Daily Telegraph. “I didn’t have anyone saying to me, ‘Oh, my God, you’re wearing hot pants. I can’t believe you’re wearing hot pants.’ Because nobody knew me. I could do and say and think anything I wanted”.

In her 2015 memoir Reckless: My Life as a Pretender, Hynde recalled that her time in London wasn’t all plain sailing. Fast forward to 1976, she risked being deported as she couldn’t get a job, and didn’t have a visa. She resorted to “doing dumb shit to get by” and was nearly involved in a scam but thought better of it. Desperate, she turned to Sex Pistols frontman, her friend Johnny Rotten, hoping the two could be married to alleviate her woes. 

However, things didn’t go to plan. During this time, the Pistols were starting to turn heads, so Rotten had bigger things on his plate. To make things worse for Hynde, Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious accused Hynde of being a golddigger. He said that she wanted to marry Rotten “’cause now he’s a rock star you can have his baby and get his money”.

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Ever the gentleman, Vicious offered to marry Hynde himself, and she accepted. As is indicative of this chapter in Hynde’s life, things were not to be. When they arrived at the registrar’s office, it was closed. “The next day wouldn’t work,” wrote Hynde, “As Sid had to go to court for putting someone’s eye out with a glass”.

Left with no choice, Hynde tried to start a band in France before moving to Cleveland in 1975. She eventually returned to London as the punk movement was in full swing in 1976, and at one point, attempted to form a group with Mick Jones of The Clash. 

As she points out in her book, this period was not a particularly fun time, as the majority of her endeavours proved to be fruitless. However, by the end of the decade, her fortunes had changed, and Pretenders were formed in 1978. The rest, as they say, is history.

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