Chrissy Amphlett, Singer With Australian Rockers Divinyls, Dies at 53

Chrissy Amphlett
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Chrissy Amphlett, the potent frontwoman of the Divinyls, the ARIA Hall of Fame-inducted group whose sexually-driven song “I Touch Myself” was a global hit in 1991, has died at her home in New York after a battle with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. She was 53.

The Divinyls were formed at the turn of the '80s, with Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee providing the core of the band. Amphlett was hard to miss in her signature schoolgirl uniform and fishnet stockings. The group scored a worldwide deal with Chrysalis Records after their debut 1981 single "Boys In Town," which reached No. 8 on the ARIA chart. With Amphlett at the mic, the Divinyls went on to record five studio albums and numerous, memorable hits -- "Pleasure and Pain," "Science Fiction" and "Sleeping Beauty" among them.

The band scored their biggest international hit in 1991 with the track "I Touch Myself," which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 10 in the U.K. and No. 1 in Australia and had radio programmers around the world pondering whether the song was too naughty to spin.

In 2001 the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), as part of its 75th Anniversary celebrations, named "Science Fiction" as one of the Top 30 Australian songs of all time.

In recognition of their brilliant career, the Divinyls were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006. Actor Hugh Jackman inducted the band, who played their first show in eight years on the night.

Amphlett will long be remembered as a peerless presence on stage.

Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard led condolences. “This is a really sad loss,” she said. "And certainly gone too soon. Chrissy lost at such a young age. So my condolences go to her family and friends.”

In a statement issued today by ARIA, her husband Charley Drayton wrote, "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”).

He added, “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.”

In 2005, Amphlett published her autobiography “Pleasure and Pain: My Life,” in which she detailed her accomplishments, drug and alcohol abuse and love affairs.

A recent online poll Down Under had Amphlett ranked at No. 9 in the list of Australia’s greatest singers of all time.

It’s been reported that, due to her problems with multiple sclerosis, Amphlett had been unable to have radiation treatment or chemotherapy for the cancer.