Chrissy Amphlett — the sultry lead singer of Australian rockers Divinyls, who released four albums in the ’80s before hitting it big with their risque smash single “I Touch Myself” — died in New York on Sunday following a long battle with cancer, according to Australian media reports.
Amphlett, 53, who lived with her husband in New York, announced in 2010 that she was fighting breast cancer and also had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
At the time, she told The Age that her battle with cancer was “shit and unfair.” She added: “But life is not fair — even rock stars get breast cancer. But there’s been many girls before me that have dealt with it successfully. It’s easy to feel sorry for me but I feel sorry for people who are suffering it alone.”
According to Faster Louder, Amphlett’s husband, Divinyls drummer Charley Drayton, issued this statement:
Our beloved Chrissy peacefully passed this afternoon. Christine Joy Amphlett succumbed to the effects of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, diseases she vigorously fought with exceptional bravery and dignity. She passed gently, in her sleep, surrounded by close friends and family, including husband of fourteen years, musician Charley Drayton; her sister, Leigh; nephew, Matt; and cousin Patricia Amphlett (“Little Pattie”).
Chrissy’s light burns so very brightly. Hers was a life of passion and creativity; she always lived it to the fullest. With her force of character and vocal strength she paved the way for strong, sexy, outspoken women. Best remembered as the lead singer of the ARIA Hall of Fame inductee, Divinyls; last month she was named one of Australia’s top ten singers of all time. Chrissy expressed hope that her worldwide hit ‘I Touch Myself’ would be utilized to remind all women to perform annual breast examinations. Chrissy was a true pioneer and a treasure to all whose lives her music and spirit touched.
Amphlett and former Air Supply members Mark McEntee and Jeremy Paul formed the Divinyls in 1980, and proceeded to score hits in Australia throughout the ’80s, including “Boys in Town,” “Science Fiction,” “Good Die Young” and “Pleasure and Pain.”
But it wasn’t until 1990’s “I Touch Myself,” which capitalized on Amphlett’s highly sexualized stage act, that the band broke through in America and elsewhere around the world. By that point, the group was down to just Amphlett and McEntee, who broke up in the mid-’90s and reunited in 2006 when they were inducted into Australia’s ARIA Hall of Fame.
Below, check out some of Divinyls’ key ’80s singles.
UPDATE: We’ve added some statements below from the Hoodoo Gurus and Icehouse
We are very sad to announce the passing of Chrissie Amphlett today (a few hours ago) after a long illness.
Chrissie has left an enormous musical and personal legacy and she will be greatly missed around the world, but personally by Rick Grossman who has always been close to Chrissie, beginning with their musical collaboration in The Divinyls. That working partnership grew into an even stronger friendship that has only deepened over the years and Rick has been in constant contact with Chrissie and her devoted partner Charlie throughout their terrible ordeal.
As for myself, I was lucky to get to work with Chrissie briefly when she sang lead vocals on a song that I helped write for the Antenna album. It is a source of great pride to me that Chrissie would often sing our song many times over the years whenever she performed solo. Chrissie also joined us onstage on a couple of memorable occasions for an off-the-cuff version of The Easybeats classic ‘I’ll Make You Happy’, a song that she put her own unique stamp on when she recorded it with The Divinyls.
Singer, actor, friend, Chrissie’s larger than life personality could never be constrained by the professional limitations other people may have tried to put on her. She was sassy, funny, gorgeous, brilliant and mercurial but always endearing and one of the most compelling performers Australia has ever produced.
I think I speak for everyone when I say we will always love her.
Our thoughts are for the many friends and family struggling with the reality of Chrissie’s passing, particularly for Charlie who has lost his soul mate and the love of his life. Chrissie’s painful struggle is over but Charlie’s continues. We wish him love.
It is with great sadness that we have received the news of the passing of Chrissy. Chrissy and the Divinyls played with us on scores and scores of occasions and I was always a great admirer of her as both a writer and a performer. Chrissy did me the great honour of recording her version of one of my songs, “Love in motion”, in the early nineties. She made the song distinctively hers, with her own smoking, seductive and unmistakable style. I was recently asked by The Age to nominate my choice of the Top 10 Australian singers of all time. Chrissy was among my choices, of course. She was a pioneer, and a great spirit. I.D
Divinyls, “Boys in Town”
Divinyls, “Science Fiction”
Divinyls, “Pleasure and Pain”