Divinyls formed in Sydney in 1980. The band primarily consisted of vocalist Chrissy Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee. Amphlett garnered widespread attention for performing on stage in a school uniform and fishnet stockings, and often used an illuminated neon tube as a prop for displaying aggression towards both band members and the audience. Originally a five-piece, the band underwent numerous line-up changes, with Amphlett and McEntee remaining as core members, before its dissolution in 1996.
Amphlett was the cousin of 1960's Australian pop icon Patricia "Little Pattie" Amphlett, who had been married to Keith Jacobsen—younger brother of pioneer rocker Col Joye and leading promoter Kevin Jacobsen. In her autobiography Pleasure and Pain (2005), Amphlett described breaking into the music scene from the age of fourteen, being arrested for busking when seventeen and travelling in Spain, and how her performances drew upon childhood pain.
At the start of their popularity, Divinyls were considered to be a hard rock band. At some point many fans referred to Amphlett as the female Angus Young, as both had similar mannerisms on stage and wore black and white school uniforms while performing in the early 1980's. The band's image gradually changed after the release of the What A Life! album when the band began wearing elaborate clothing and producing more songs in the pop music genre. By the time of the release of their Temperamental album, the Divinyls' image had changed to a glamour fashion style where they produced modern pop music.
In May 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. The band was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and in late 2007 Amphlett and McEntee reconvened to record a new single and begin working on a new album. The band played a short series of live gigs in Australia in late 2007 and early 2008.
Divinyls released five studio albums—four placed in the Top 10 Australian chart, while one (Divinyls) reached No. 15 in the United States (US) and No.33 for 3 weeks in Canada. Their biggest-selling single "I Touch Myself" (1990) achieved a No. 1 ranking in Australia, No. 4 in the US, No. 10 in the United Kingdom (UK), and No. 13 in Canada.
"Desperate", released in 1983, contained the hits "Boys in Town", "Only Lonely", "Science Fiction" and a cover of The Easybeats' "Make U Happy".
Aged 53 years, Amphlett died on 21 April 2013 at her home in New York City, USA, after a protracted battle with breast cancer. Amphlett had been unable to receive radiation or chemotherapy treatment for the cancer because she concurrently suffered from multiple sclerosis.
See also Chrissy Amphlett tribute post on this blog.
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