Flashback: The Pretenders Rehearse ‘Brass in Pocket’ in 1979
Earlier this week, Journey and the Pretenders rolled out dates for an exhaustive 2020 co-headlining tour that will take them all over America between May and September. According to a press release, the show will feature “all new production and hits from start to finish.” It goes on to list exactly which Pretenders songs will likely feature in the show, including “I’ll Stand By You,” “Back on the Chain Gang,” “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” “2000 Miles,” “My City Was Gone,” “Middle of the Road,” and “Brass in Pocket.”
The latter song is perhaps the one that gets the most airplay these days, and it essentially broke the band when it came out in late 1979 as their third single following “Stop Your Sobbing” and “Kid.” It peaked at Number 14 in America, but rose all the way to Number One in the U.K. Check out this amazing footage of the group rehearsing the song in 1979.
Tragically, this lineup of the band produced just two albums before guitarist James Honeymoon-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon died from drug overdoses. That left Chrissie Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers as the sole original members for a short time, but Hynde fired Chambers in 1986 and essentially turned the Pretenders into her solo project. The drummer returned in 1994 and is still part of the live band, but session drummers appeared on the last two records and Hynde hasn’t worked with Chambers in the studio since 2002’s Loose Screw.
The group went on a long hiatus at the end of their 2010 Break Up the Concrete tour, and it seemed like they might be done when Hynde cut a solo album in 2014 and toured on her own behind it. But in 2018 she revived the Pretenders with the Dan Auerbach–produced Alone and they’ve been gigging hard ever since, including a long arena run with Stevie Nicks in 2017. They’ve played nearly 200 shows since 2016 and are pushing themselves harder than ever next year with 60 consecutive amphitheater dates. That’s a lot of work for a singer and drummer both pushing 70, but Hynde and Chambers are lifers and they’ve survived many more difficult ordeals than a long tour with Journey.
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