The outspoken ​Chrissie Hynde

Destiny, indeed: Once in London, she spent the better part of five years struggling to be in a band, and in 1978, lightning struck. Hynde found three kindred spirits (musically, anyway) and formed The Pretenders.

Almost overnight, the group was a critical and commercial triumph.

But there would be no "happily ever after": By the spring of 1983, two of the band's founding members -- guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon -- would be dead. Both had overdosed on drugs.

"When Jimmy died at age 25, and then Pete died less than a year later, did you think, 'Maybe I won't go on with the band?'" asked Smith.

"I knew I wasn't gonna go on with that band," Hynde said. "But also, I had to keep making records, 'cause, you know, I had to pay the bills and keep my thing alive.

"I think that's the good thing about taking a long time to establish what you're doing and making a lot of mistakes along the ways. When you finally achieve what you were going for, if it suddenly is taken away from you, you know, you don't want to let it go."

And she's still holding it together.

The Akron she knew is gone, but the city is coming back -- and Hynde, who still lives in London, is coming back here more often these days, too. She still keeps her dream car there: it's a 1971 Pontiac Le Mans T-37.

You really haven't seen Akron until you've seen it like this: from the front seat of a muscle car, with Chrissie Hynde as your tour guide, and her pal, Gabe Troppe, at the wheel.

Hynde took Smith by a place she hung out as a kid: the local cemetery. "I like it because it's old and the crypts are beautiful."

"Did it creep you out walking around here?" asked Smith.

"No," Hynde said. "I like ghosts!"

Hynde is a strict vegetarian, so we skipped the burger joints. But there was one Akron landmark she just couldn't pass up.

"We're right near Krispy Kreme donuts, actually. You want one?"

Hynde, now a grandmother, will turn 64 tomorrow, and it's clear that she doesn't hit the donut shop too often. She's also cut 'way back on the partying.

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"Everyone in my game comes to the same conclusion eventually, and that's that they have to back off," Hynde said.

And when did she come to that conclusion? "Probably when I was 60!"

"And what does that mean for you, backing off?"

"It just means I can sleep better. And I'm not afraid to go out at night, 'cause I'm pretty sure I know where I'll be by midnight, and I know I'll get home."