On this day in music history: January 21, 1984…

On this day in music history: January 21, 1984 – “Learning To Crawl”, the third album by The Pretenders is released. Produced by Chris Thomas, it is recorded at AIR Studios in London from July 1982 – October 1983. Following the release of The Pretenders second full length album “Pretenders II”, the band begin to experience problems when lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon are both struggling with substance abuse problems. Things come to a head when Farndon is fired from the band on June 14, 1982. Two days later June 16, 1982, James Honeyman-Scott dies suddenly of a drug overdose. Then ten months later on April 14, 1983, Pete Farndon also succumbs, having overdosed on heroin and drowned in his bathtub after taking the fatal dose. In spite of these tragedies, bandleader and lead vocalist Chrissie Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers continue, with Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremner, Big Country bassist Tony Butler and bassist Andrew Bodnar (Graham Parker & Rumour) filling in until permanent replacements can be found. In the interim, they record the tracks “Back On The Chain Gang” (#5 Pop), “My City Was Gone” (#11 Mainstream Rock), and a cover of The Persuaders soul classic “Thin Line Between Love And Hate” (#83 Pop). The first two tracks are released as a stand alone single in late 1982, with “Chain Gang” also being featured in the Martin Scorsese film “The King Of Comedy”. When recording on the bands’ third album resumes, guitarist Robbie McIntosh and bassist Malcolm Foster are recruited to fill out the line up. The albums’ title is inspired by Hynde’s then infant daughter Natalie who was “learning to crawl” during the recording sessions. It spins off a total of four singles including “Middle Of The Road” (#19 Pop) and “Show Me” (#28 Pop). In 2007, the album is remastered  and reissued on CD, featuring seven additional bonus tracks. In 2012, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab issues the title as a hybrid SACD, In 2015, UK reissue label Edsel Records releases a two CD + DVD Deluxe Edition. The first disc features the original ten track album, with the second including B-sides, live tracks and demos. The DVD features all of the original music videos made for the singles, plus two TV performances of “2000 Miles”. “Learning To Crawl” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.