WCSX Classic Cuts
The Pretenders: "Back on the Chain Gang"
The Hook: With bassist Pete Farndon fired, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott dead and studio time booked, it was either throw in the towel or hire another guitarist and carry on.
Album: Initially came out as a single, then on the King of Comedy soundtrack and then on The Pretenders' Learning to Crawl
Writer: Chrissie Hynde
Stats: Peaked at number-four on Billboard's Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number-five on the Hot 100 singles chart.
Background: 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.
Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde on “Back on the Chain Gang.” OC:…be miserable. :19
“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, Back on the Chain Gang, live in London