Led by provocative singer Christina Amphlett, whose songwriting with guitarist Mark McEntee was the basis of the band, the Australian band Divinyls recorded a wealth of excellent material, from commercial hard pop and driving arena-rock to alluring ballads.
As the band’s focal point, Amphlett – cousin of 60s Australian “Queen of the surf”, Little Pattie (real name Patricia Amphlett) – strutted her stuff the world over, astounding and bewildering audiences with her displays of school uniform-clad bump ‘n’ grind burlesque and unrestrained sexuality.
By the time Divinyls formed in 1980, Amphlett had been singing in bands since the early 1970s.
Her early bands included Daisy Clover (which she joined at the age of 14), One Ton Gypsy and Steamhammer. She also spent three years travelling throughout Europe, during which time she spent a period in a Spanish jail.
Jeremy Paul and Mark McEntee had both served in the softest of all soft-rock bands, Air Supply.
Divinyls emerged out of inner-city Sydney and quickly built a national following. In September 1981, WEA issued the band’s debut single Boys In Town which reached #6 during October. It was lifted from the mini-album Music from Monkey Grip which was the soundtrack of the Australian low-budget movie Monkey Grip (1982). Amphlett took the small speaking part of Angela in the film.
The band supported Simple Minds on an Australian tour and signed to Chrysalis, recording the punchy Desperate album in New York with producers Mark Opitz and Bob Clearmountain. The album spawned the singles Science Fiction (1982), Siren (Never Let You Go) (1983) and Casual Encounter (1983).
The band continued to tour extensively, both locally and overseas, and the singles Good Die Young (1984) and In My Life (1984) followed.
The 1985 album What A Life! reached #2 in Australia within a week of release. The first single, Pleasure And Pain (co-written by British 70’s pop producing guru Mike Chapman) peaked at #5 and also cracked the American Top 40. Two other singles were lifted from the album – Sleeping Beauty and Heart Telegraph.
Following months of touring in the US, Divinyls returned to Australia with a line-up containing three Americans (including Frank Infante from Blondie).
Such was their stadium rock experience at that time that the band consistently blew audiences away on the enormous ‘Australian Made’ tour in 1987.
By the time their second Mike Chapman-produced album, Temperamental, was released, the band were basically back to a duo of Amphlett and McEntee. The singles from the album were Back To The Wall (March 1988), Hey Little Boy (July) and Punxsie (October). All were minor domestic hits.
In 1990 Divinyls signed with Virgin and issued the biggest album of their career, diVINYLS, spawning the #1 Australian single I Touch Myself in January 1991. This provocative paean to masturbation also took the band into the US Top Ten (#4) and UK Top Ten (#10).
Divinyls tracks subsequently started to appear in the soundtracks to US movies and TV shows (including Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and the band signed with BMG/RCA in 1996.
Chrissy Amphlett died, aged 53, on 21 April 2013 at her home in New York City after a long battle with breast cancer. She was unable to receive radiation treatment or chemotherapy as cancer treatment because she suffered from multiple sclerosis.