Guitar Aficionado

Playlist: Remembering James Honeyman-Scott of The Pretenders

Passing away as he did at the young age of 25 in 1982, Pretenders lead guitarist and avid axe collector James Honeyman-Scott had precious little time to create an extended recorded legacy. The tracks that he did commit to tape on the Pretenders’ first two studio albums, however, are nothing short of revelatory:
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Passing away as he did at the young age of 25 in 1982, Pretenders lead guitarist and avid axe collector James Honeyman-Scott had precious little time to create an extended recorded legacy. The tracks that he did commit to tape on the Pretenders’ first two studio albums, however, are nothing short of revelatory:

by Tom Beaujour

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Passing away as he did at the young age of 25 in 1982, Pretenders lead guitarist and avid axe collector James Honeyman-Scott had precious little time to create an extended recorded legacy.

The tracks he did commit to tape on the Pretenders’ first two studio albums, however, are nothing short of revelatory: Punk attitude can, in fact, coexist with a sophisticated melodic — it’s just that most of us, unlike Honeyman-Scott can’t crack the code. H

ere are four of the guitarist’s finest fretboard moments.

“Kid”
(Pretenders, 1980)

The song’s Dave Edmunds-inspired signature lick would be enough to secure this track a spot in the rock-guitar pantheon, but the solo’s use of open strings and tasty slides is as good as rock guitar gets. And while Scott actually used Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde’s Telecaster to play the lead, dig the pink non-reverse Firebird that the dude trots out in the video!

“Pack It Up”
Pretenders II, 1981

The guitar parts in this song have an eerie similarity to those employed by Police guitarist (and fellow Hamer guitars endorser) Andy Summers on that band’s 1983 single “Synchronicity II.” Surely that’s just a coincidence, but if Summers was inspired by Scott’s work, who could blame him: The Sex Pistols-flavored riff is unforgettable, the ostinato verse figure electrifying, and the chunky slash of bridge part is something that well, even a member of the Police could wish he had written.

“Tattooed Love Boys”
(Pretenders, 1980)

Lest anyone should think that Honeyman-Scott lacked traditional “chops,” please refer to the solo section of this up-tempo rocker. This is a guy who could rip speedy blues licks with the best of 'em. He just chose not to most of the time.

“Brass In Pocket”
(Pretenders, 1980)

This Pretenders’ hit is proof positive that skillful guitar orchestration can propel an otherwise average number into the stratosphere. Honeyman-Scotts’s guitar again delivers a classic melodic hook, while the staccato verse figure puts a much-needed spring in this tune’s mid-temp step.

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