September 1986: The Pretenders Release "Don't Get Me Wrong"

American singer-songwriter and guitarist Chrissie Hynde of rock group The Pretenders, London, September 1986. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
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(Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Inspiration--like rock stars--moves in mysterious ways. Take Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, who was inspired to write one of the band's biggest songs for none other than legendary tennis bad boy, John McEnroe. Not only was the three-time Wimbledon champ the inspiration for the classic tune, Hynde was going to give it to him to help launch a music career.

"He loved playing guitar," she told Los Angeles rock radio legend Uncle Joe Benson (via Songfacts). "He's a big music person, which is how I knew him, because he used to come to our shows and he was friendly with the band and stuff. I had in mind that I was going to write this song for him to do. Years later, when I was on British [Airways], I heard an announcement – because I did write some of that song on a plane – and I think I nicked one of the top-line melodies from the overhead announcement: 'Dong-dong-dong-dong … Welcome to British Airways.'"

Instead, Hynde smartly kept the track, which was released as the lead single for the band's fourth studio album, Get Close, on September 23, 1986, in America (the song was issued in the UK in early August 1986). The song went on to become one of the Pretenders' biggest hits, climbing all the way to #10 on the Hot 100 for the week of December 27, 1986. The #1 song in America that week: the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian."

The tune landed with a slick music video, a fun tribute to classic UK TV show, The Avengers. Chrissie Hynde, of course, plays the part of Emma Peel.

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