Since the late '70s, singer/guitarist/songwriter Chrissie Hynde has been the leader of one of rock's most widely beloved bands, the Pretenders. Born on September 7, 1951 in Akron, OH, Hynde was turned on to rock the same way zillions of others did in the '60s - via such British invasion bands as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Kinks.
After attending Kent State University in the early '70s (where she witnessed first hand the tragic Kent State Killings of 1970) and forming one of her first rock bands (with future members of Devo), Hynde became enamored with such proto-punk bands as the Stooges and the Velvet Underground.
Fed up with the U.S. music scene, Hynde bought a one way ticket to London, England, where she became a rock critic. But more importantly, she found what she was looking for musically - Great Britain was in the middle of a musical revolution, "punk rock."
Hynde became friendly with such up and coming punk rockers as the Sex Pistols and the Clash (Hynde almost formed a group with members of the latter band), and its back-to-basics approach inspired her to form her own punk outfit. By the late '70s, Hynde had accomplished her goal, as the original Pretenders lineup was in place - Hynde on vocals/guitar, bassist Pete Farndon, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, and drummer Martin Chambers.
Due to Hynde's vast rock & roll knowledge, the Pretenders were much more than just a punk band - they were never afraid to let other styles seep into their own sound, making their 1980 self-titled debut one of rock's greatest all-time classics.
Despite worldwide success and a hit sophomore album (1981's Pretenders II), tragedy was lurking around the corner - both Scott and Farndon died from drug overdoses less than a year apart from each other. The Pretenders carried on despite the career-threatening misfortune, and scored another big hit with 1984's Learning to Crawl.
Despite numerous lineup changes ever since, Hynde has kept the Pretenders going - issuing solid albums and continuing to be a must-see live act to this day. She has also never been afraid to voice her opinions concerning some causes and topics she believes strongly about, such as PETA and ending animal cruelty. ~ All Music Guide
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UB40 experienced its greatest achievements in the 80s and 90s by producing sophisticated and softer, Jamaican-style music that complemented the social and political plights experienced in their native area of Birmingham. The name UB40 was a sarcastic reference to the UK unemployment benefit form and also was the cover art for its first album called Signing on.
Their early music style was unique, with a heavy influence of analogue synthesizers, psychedelic rock guitar, saxophone and dub producer techniques.
The band formed its own record company called DEP International by the time it released its second album, Present Arms, that featured the single One in Ten. UB40 solidified its reputation for serious reggae with its hit single Red Red Wine which featured on its third album, Labour of Love. Other notable singles from this time were Please Don’t Make Me Cry, Cherry Oh Baby and If It Happens Again.
In 1987, the band released a Greatest Hits compilation which also contained collaboration with Pretender’s vocalist, Chrissie Hynde. Hynde was a catalyst in the band’s early success. She noticed them performing in a pub and offered them the supporting act spot for her band’s tour.
Chart triumphs continued into the 90s with a cover of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love which was the group’s third UK #1 single. The band also had top ten hits with Kingston Town, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight with Robert Palmer, Higher Ground and Come Back Darling.
By the 21st Century, UB40 could lay claim to a three-decade long career, many sell-out live performances and over 70 million records sold.
Unlike other similar ensemble-structured bands, UB40’s line-up remained unchanged from 1978 to 2008. The band was spearheaded by the Campbell brothers, Ali and Rob. Ali Campbell was eventually replaced by another Campbell sibling, Duncan in 2008. The band also toured with another popular reggae vocalist, Maxi Priest.
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Simple Minds is fronted by Scottish singer-songwriter Jim Kerr. Born in 1959, Kerr's first band was a 6 piece punk rock band called Johnny and the Self Abusers which after one unsuccessful single was reshuffled and named Simple Minds with band members including Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee and Tony Donald.
Popular in the '80s and '90s the band had a string of successful albums but only reached number 1 in the UK singles chart with their 6 minute epic "Belfast Child". Simple Minds are perhaps best known for their track "Don't You (Forget About Me)" which was used on the soundtrack of John Hughes movie "The Breakfast Club" and made them an overnight hit in the US. A politically active group, Simple Minds played at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday celebrations.
Jim Kerr has been married twice; first to Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders, with whom he had daughter, Yasmin Paris Kerr, and then to actress Patsy Kensit whom he later divorced in 1996. Kerr has a son, James Kerr, from his second marriage.
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com.