May 11, 2023 - News

Greatest Cleveland concerts: No. 13 – Pretenders at Agora

Musician Chrissie Hynde performs on stage.

Chrissie Hynde's 1980 revenge tour. Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

On March 17, 1980, The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde returned to Northeast Ohio with revenge on her mind.

Flashback: Hynde grew up as a punk-loving outcast in Akron and moved to the more progressive scene of London in 1973.

  • There, she formed The Pretenders, a hybrid of new wave and punk whose self-titled debut album went to No. 1 in the U.K. in January 1980.

Between the lines: The Pretenders' show at Cleveland's Agora two months later was preceded by Hynde's appearance at radio station WMMS, where she recounted years of ridicule at Akron's Firestone High School.

What they're saying: "Her return to Northeast Ohio was about getting back at those people who harassed her all those years," John Gorman, then WMMS program director, tells Axios.

  • "She was there to say, 'I made it. How about you?' It wasn't about getting mad. It was about getting even."

The intrigue: Hynde brought that fire to the stage as The Pretenders blasted through most of their debut album.

The bottom line: "I saw The Pretenders several years later at Cleveland Music Hall," Gorman says. "Chrissie was still calling out the names of the people who made fun of her in high school."

  • "She probably still holds a grudge to this day."

Go deeper: No. 14 — Lollapalooza 1991


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