The original lineup:

After American Chrissie Hynde tried and failed to hook up with London punk rockers who formed such bands as The Damned and The Clash, she went to Hereford and found her bandmates.

Their first two albums (Pretenders (1980) and Pretenders II (1981)) showcased the unique sound they brought to the punk rock/new wave scene of the early 80's. The punk sensibilitity and odd time signatures of Hynde's writing combined with the suspended chords of Honeyman-Scott's guitar to produce what Chrissie would later call the "Pretenders sound", which few bands have duplicated. To truly understand, listen to the first few chords of Message Of Love or to the opening guitar riff in Tattooed Love Boys (in alternating 5/4 6/4 time).

Farndon's dismissal (and later death) hurt, but it was Honeyman-Scott's death (both deaths were drug-related) that killed the original Pretenders. Learning To Crawl (1983) was a great album, with some of Honeyman-Scott's influence, but the sound was much less unique. After that Chrissie fired Martin and semi-retired to raise her daughter. Get Close (1986) and especially Packed! (1990) were disappointments. Fortunately, Chrissie got her groove back (thanks to Urge Overkill), resurrected The Pretenders, rehired Martin, found Adam Seymour (a Honeyman-Scott soundalike) and Andy Hobson, who is probably a better bass player than Farndon. Last of the Independents (1994) was a big comeback album with I'll Stand By You becoming their 2nd biggest chart hit. They continued the good work, but without much radio or chart success with an MTV Unplugged-esque The Isle Of View (1995), ¡Viva El Amor! (1999), and Loose Screw (2002).

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, in 2005.