Chrissy Amphlett, Australian former lead singer of the rock band Divinyls, passed away yesterday morning in New York where she lived with her husband and former Divinyls drummer Charley Drayton.
"Our beloved Chrissy peacefully made her transition this morning,” read a statement offered by Amphlett’s family. "Christine Joy Amphlett succumbed to the effects of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, diseases she vigorously fought with exceptional bravery and dignity. Chrissy's light burns so very brightly. Hers was a life of passion and creativity; she always lived it to the fullest.”
The singer revealed she was battling the diseases in 2010. ''My family knows, so I thought I might as well come out with it,'' she told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2010. ''I've got songs to sing, I've got stages to perform on. I'm a keep-on-going sort of girl.'' She added, “It's unfair, but life is not fair – even rock stars get breast cancer.”Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Amphlett’s no-nonsense attitude and passion drove her to blaze her own path from a young age. Born in Geelong, Victoria, she was the cousin of 1960s pop star “Little Pattie” Thompson and went on to find her voice at an early age. Leaving home as a teenager, Amphlett traveled to England, France and Spain where she lived the bohemian life of a street performer.
Amphlett would later become famous as lead singer of Divinyls – a role she relished and used to great effect, provocatively frolicking on stage in a schoolgirl outfit and torn fishnets. After forming in 1980 and appearing the 1982 film Monkey Grip, the band rose to stardom with hits like Boys in Town, Only Lonely and the 1991 pop phenomenon I Touch Myself, which was Australia’s number one hit and ascended to the top ten charts in both the United States and Britain. After her diagnosis with breast cancer, she expressed her hope that her predicament would remind women to get annual breast examinations.
Divinyls were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 2006, toured in 2007 and then broke up. Just last month, Amphlett was named one of Australia’s top ten singers of all time.
Ian “Molly” Meldrum, Countdown host and friend of Amphlett and Drayton, praised the band and Amphlett’s contributions, saying, “She broke ground for women in Australian music, she was amazing and fearless. Divinyls were an incredible band, they helped open the doors for Australian acts to tour America in the ‘80s.”
But more than anything else, Amphlett distinguished herself with her intense stage presence and originality. “She wasn’t trying to be anyone else,” said music journalist Glen A. Baker, who called her “ferociously larger than life.”
He added, “Pop music had trained us to expect that women in rock were kind of like accessories – pretty things in short skirts and winsome smiles. We didn’t really expect to see anyone who came on like a cavewoman. She was such a mighty singer, but she was innately so rock ‘n’ roll.”