The Pretenders: “Back on the Chain Gang”

ALBUM: Initially came out as a single, then on the King of Comedy soundtrack and then on The Pretenders’ Learning to Crawl 

YEAR: 1982

WRITER: Chrissie Hynde

Peaked at number-four on Billboard‘s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number-five on the Hot 100 singles chart.

With two of the original four members of The Pretenders gone from the band in a flash, Chrissie Hynde says recording “Back on the Chain Gang” was an existential decision for her. “I was booked to go into the studio with the original Pretenders and then we fired Pete. Two days later Jimmy was dead. So I was still booked to go in the studio and I went, ‘Who can I take in to do this thing?’ And I thought, ‘Well, who would Jimmy take in?’ and I thought, ‘Billy Bremner.” So we went in and I thought, ‘Well, we can either throw the towel in now and be miserable and not go into the studio, or we can go into the studio and be miserable.”

The Pretenders fired their original bassist Pete Farndon 35 years ago today (June 14th, 1982), citing “incompatibility,” though the real explanation had more to do with drug addiction.


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