Farndon in December 1981
|Born||12 June 1952|
|Died||14 April 1983(aged 30)|
|Associated acts||The Pretenders|
Peter Granville "Pete" Farndon (12 June 1952 – 14 April 1983) was an English bassist and founding member of the rock band the Pretenders. Farndon attended Hereford Cathedral School in his home city of Hereford, before embarking on his musical career with the Pretenders. In addition to playing bass with the group, Farndon sang backup vocals and co-wrote two of the group's songs ("The Wait" and "Space Invader"), before an increasing drug problem resulted in him being dismissed from the group on 14 June 1982.
Farndon's musical influences included Stanley Clarke and Jeff Beck. Farndon played with Cold River Lady until the summer of 1976, and then toured with Australian folk-rock band The Bushwackers prior to the Pretenders in 1978.
Farndon joined the Pretenders in the Spring of 1978, and was the first member of the 1978-82 lineup to be recruited by Chrissie Hynde. Farndon recalled their first rehearsal: "I'll never forget it, we go in, we do a soul number, we do a country and western number, and then we did 'The Phone Call' which is like the heaviest fuckin' punk rocker you could do in 5/4 time. Impressed? I was very impressed." A guitarist was still needed, and Farndon recruited lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott into the group that summer. Farndon, Honeyman-Scott, and bandmate Martin Chambers all hailed from Hereford, England.
Chambers worked with Farndon to adjust to Hynde's timing: "Pete and I did a fair amount of work on our own, in terms of the rhythm section being able to play Chrissie's odd timing things. So Pete and I would come in a couple of hours ahead of the others and baby talk our way through the songs. You know, 'da dad da, boom boom.' She didn't count in the traditional way so we had to reinterpret the counts. Once we made the adjustment and learned to go with her flow, so to speak, it became second nature. It's the bedrock of Pretenders music."
Farndon played a large role in shaping the Pretenders' tough image, often wearing his biker clothing, or later, samurai gear onstage. Hynde later acknowledged that two Pretenders' songs, "Biker" and "Samurai" had "references to a Pete Farndon type of character". As a performer, Hynde recalled that "Pete was fantastic. Pete was blagging it a lot because technically he wasn't any kind of great musician. But he had real heart, like in boxing terms, he could win the fight on heart alone. And he had a great energy, borne of a kind of desperation."
While the Pretenders were touring Japan, Farndon met American model Conover. The two were married before the end of the tour, even though Farndon had been in a long-term relationship with another woman.
By 1982 Farndon's drug use was causing increasingly strained relations with his bandmates. He became increasingly belligerent and according to Hynde he "was in bad shape. He was really not someone you could work with." He was fired from the band on 14 June 1982. Two days after Farndon's dismissal, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott was found dead of heart failure caused by a cocaine overdose. Farndon himself was found dead, in the bath at his home in London, on 14 April 1983 by his wife, Conover; he had passed out and drowned in his bathtub following a heroin overdose. At the time of his death Farndon was in the midst of forming a new band, called Samurai, with former Clash drummer Topper Headon (who was also battling heroin abuse and had also been kicked out of his band due to his inability to cope with it), guitarist Henry Padovani, organist Mick Gallagher, and vocalist Steve Allen (formerly of Deaf School). Without Farndon and Honeyman-Scott the Pretenders were left with only two of their original four members.
- The Pretenders
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