Demos 1978

Regents Park – 12th August 1978

The Wait | I Can’t Control Myself | Stop Your Sobbing | Tequila

These demos appeared on the 2006 re-release of Pretenders expanded and remastered. These can also be found on the new release of Pretenders 40th anniversary which also includes a demo of Precious which can be purchased here Pretenders (Deluxe Edition).

Chrissie Hynde – Vocals/Guitar | James Honeyman-Scott – Guitar | Pete Farndon – Bass Guitar | Gerry Mackelduff – Drums

pretenders demos 1978
Pre- Pretenders with Gerry Mackleduff (left)

Farndon had recently returned to England after a two year stint in Australian band the Bushwackers, and was actively looking for work, so he readily accepted the invitation to join the new group. Farndon also got another Hereford friend, James Honeyman Scott, to join on guitar.

Gas Wild was soon replaced by session drummer Gerry Mackleduff, and the group recorded more demos, putting together a tape that included, “The Wait,” “I Can’t Control Myself,” “Tequila” (not the Champs’ instrumental) and “Stop Your Sobbing,” recorded on August 12, 1978. The demos are available on Rhino’s 2006 expanded edition release of “Pretenders,” and make for fascinating listening. “Stop Your Sobbing” is slower, almost tentative in comparison to the confidence of the later single. “The Wait” has the trademark Pretenders’ jagged guitar style, but different lyrics. “I Can’t Control Myself” is taut and edgy, and would’ve worked well on the debut album; in contrast, “Tequila” is a slow country & western weepie — perhaps the kind of music Hynde found herself listening to during her brief tenure in Tucson.

Hynde took the demo to her friend Nick Lowe, who was immediately interested in working with the group, telling Hynde, “Chrissie, I’m amazed and stunned. I definitely want in on this act.” The group entered the studio, and, with Lowe producing, recorded their first single in a single day: “Stop Your Sobbing”/“The Wait.” Both songs sound fuller in comparison to the earlier demos, and the single perfectly encapsulates the band’s musical intentions, as Farndon explained to an interviewer; to combine the energy of the Who with the toughness of ‘60s girl groups like the Shangri-Las.

With a single now ready for release, the band needed a name. Hynde had already shot down one obvious choice, telling “NME,” “From the first day I met Dave, I made it perfectly clear that no way would it be just the Chrissie Hynde Band.” One name under consideration was the Rhythm Method, but it was dropped because of concern it might prove too controversial. The group finally settled on the Pretenders, inspired by Sam Cooke’s version of the Platters’ hit “The Great Pretender.” It fit in nicely with the band’s down-to-earth” style; “totally unpretentious,” Hynde explained to “NME.”

Though Mackleduff’s work on the single had been fine, the other Pretenders decided he wasn’t quite what they were looking for in a drummer. Honeyman Scott and Fardon suggested yet another friend they knew from Hereford, Martin Chambers, who’d previously played with Honeyman Scott in the band Cheeks (led by ex-Mott The Hoople keyboardist Verdon Allen).