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Chrissie Hynde: The Greatest Pretender

This week, music photographer, Jill Furmanovsky travelled to Manchester with her long-term friend and muse and queen of rock music, Chrissie Hynde. After doing the media rounds to support the release of her album ‘Alone’ and a BBC Arena *documentary 'Alone with Chrissie Hynde'*, Chrissie wanted to see Jill's latest exhibition 'Oasis DNA' which is currently on display at the Manchester Central Library.

The pair have been friends since they first met in London during the heyday of punk in the late 1970s. Since then they have worked together on numerous occasions.

In an interview for Jill’s book The Moment in 1995, Chrissie said of her friend, "I’ve learnt a lot about promoting myself through all this work we’ve done. At the beginning I was so uptight and I had this idea that I was this purist about the music. I used to disregard the videos, the photo-sessions, all of it, because they weren’t something that I was comfortable with or that I was particularly interested in. You (Jill) get beautiful lighting and a beautiful mood and you actually make people look good. And lots of people don’t."

Jill says "I see Chrissie as the female equivalent of David Bowie. She intrigues, inspires and plays against type. Her tender, remarkable voice is presented in a way that is more Iggy Pop (her hero) than say Stevie Nicks (whom she is currently on tour with). You’ll never see Chrissie in a frock or in a fashion magazine. She shuns them. Actually she is dream to work with because she has ideas of her own and the courage to try anything that is rock and roll as she sees it. As her own lyrics say:"

"There's nobody else here
No one like me
I'm special, so special
I gotta have some of your attention give it to me."

Chrissie told the Manchester Evening News this week: "Jill and I have been mates for a long time. I can always call her with some daft ideas and she says, 'Let's do it'; so we have a huge archive now'.

Jill added that she had enough material on Chrissie & The Pretenders to put together another exhibition – the title? The Greatest Pretender. Of course.

Jill has been through her photo archive and shares below anecdotes to accompany some of her favourite shots taken over the years. If you are interested in owning any of these fantastic images as limited edition prints please contact us at info@rockarchive.co.uk

Pretenders Packed cover 1990 © Jill Furmanovsky

For 'Packed!' the Pretenders 5th album cover we shot a lot of stuff but this was the simplest and the best

Chrissie Hynde & Jordan at the 100 Club 1977 © Jill Furmanovsky

This was the first time I set eyes on Chrissie Hynde - in the 100 Club at a gig by Mark Perry’s ATV. Many punk luminaries were in the audience that night including Siouxsie Sioux, Elvis Costello, Adam Ant, Wayne County, The Adverts, and Jordan, who worked with Chrissie at Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's ’s King’s Road shop, Sex.

Pretenders, Scotland 1981 © Jill Furmanovsky

This was a session in Scotland for a London Magazine I think. Chrissie always specified that there were to be no pictures of her on her own – only with the band.

Pretenders, Kenny Everette Show 1979 © Jill Furmanovsky

The late great comedian Kenny Everett had the Pretenders on his show when the band were about to release their first single 'Stop Your Sobbing'. Jokers every one, the Pretenders were happy to dress up and act silly with Kenny who performed as a bearded punk.

Fitzroy Road, London 1990 © Jill Furmanovsky

The Hat shot - one of 12 David Shilling hats for a calendar that never saw the light of day. 

This image is available to buy as a signed limited edition fine art print here

August 1990 © Jill Furmanovsky

A press shot taken at the same time as the Gary Stretch images with Chrissie at her most alluring

This image is available to buy as a signed limited edition fine art print here

Chrissie Hynde & Leah © Jill Furmanovsky

This was the first serious collaboration between Chrissie and I. It was an illustration for a book called ‘Living Without Cruelty’. The phrase ‘C’eci n’est pas un Vie’ based on a Magritte painting, led us to consider the life of the battery chicken or pig or whatever. We shot a series of pictures of Chrissie chained up in a cage ending with a poignant image of the caged mother prevented from contact with her baby (played perfectly by my 1 year old daughter Leah).

Chrissie-Hynde & Gary Stretch, August 1990 © Jill Furmanovsky

Another collaboration this time a promo shoot for the release of  ‘Sense of Purpose’ featuring the chiselled cheekbones and incredible six-pack of boxer Gary Stretch.

Here There & Everywhere Concert 1999 © Jill Furmanovsky

A serious collection of celebs, including Tom Jones, George Michael,  & Elvis Costello took part in this concert organised by Chrissie and Paul McCartney to celebrate the life of Linda McCartney.

Dan Auerbach & Chrissie Hynde 2015 © Jill Furmanovsky

Taken backstage at an Arcs gig at the O2 Forum in November 2015 Chrissie joined the band on stage and we did a quick press shoot in the dressing-room with Dan Auerbach who produced The Pretenders album, Alone (2016)

* Airs on 10th February. A longer cinema version is due to be shown later this year.

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Jill Furmanovsky

Jill Furmanovsky

Rockarchive founder, Jill Furmanovsky is a British photographer who has documented iconic rock musicians and bands from Pink Floyd to Oasis.

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