Friday, October 29, 2010

Divinlys' Chrissy Amphlett: She'll "Deal With It"


One of my favorite Australian bands is the Divinyls, about which Wikipedia notes:

Divinyls were an Australian rock band formed in Sydney in 1980 and featuring vocalist Christina Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee. As the focal point, Amphlett performed on stage wearing a school uniform and fishnet stockings, often using an illuminated neon tube as a prop and displaying aggression towards band members and the audience. The band, originally a five-piece, underwent numerous lineup changes with Amphlett and McEntee as the core members, before breaking up in 1996. Divinyls have released five studio albums, with four of them reaching the Top 10 in Australia and one, Divinyls, reaching No. 15 in the US. Their biggest-selling single, “I Touch Myself” (1991) achieved No. 1 in Australia, No. 4 in the US and No. 10 in the UK.

Actually, I’ve always found the popular (and controversial) “I Touch Myself” a rather lame, gimmicky-kind of song. (To hear it, click here.) I much prefer the Divinlys earlier “new wave” output from the mid-1980s. My favorite of the band’s albums is 1985’s What a Life!, which features such gems as “Pleasure and Pain,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Good Die Young,” “Heart Telegraph,” and “Dear Diary” (which samples dialogue from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 film Strangers on a Train).

Since Friday night is often “music night” at The Wild Reed, I’ve decided to share the music video of one of my favorite Divinlys’ songs, “Back to the Wall,” from the band’s 1988 album Temperamental. This video is followed by a Sydney Morning Herald article in which Chrissy Amphlett talks about dealing with her recent breast cancer diagnosis. “I’m strong and I will get over this,” she says. My thoughts and prayers are with her and all who are dealing with and/or recovering from a life threatening disease.

We’re living in desperate times,
these are desperate times, my dear.
There’s no way out of here,
there’s no way out I fear.
I’ve been holding back all my tears
just so the pressure don’t show.
Like a time bomb ticking away,
I might blow up some day.
Don’t push me, don’t shove.
You better watch what you do.

When my back’s to the wall,
I might do anything at all.
When my back’s to the wall,
I might take any chance at all.
When my back’s to the wall,
I might do anything.

You’ve got the upper hand,
but I’ve got nothing to lose.
When I’m trapped in a corner like this,
I might light a fuse.
There’s no way out of here,
there’s no way out, my dear.
Don’t push me, don’t shove.
You better watch what you do . . .


I Can Deal With It

Divinyls Singer Tells of Breast Cancer

By Kylie Northover
Sydney Morning Herald
October 20, 2010

Chrissy Amphlett, the former lead singer of the Australian rock group the Divinyls, has revealed she has breast cancer. Speaking to the Herald from New York, Amphlett, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago, said the recent diagnosis had “thrown her for a six.” “My family knows, so I thought I might as well come out with it,” she said yesterday. “It was going to come out sooner or later. I’ll get over it – I’ve got songs to sing, I’ve got stages to perform on. I’m a keep-on-going sort of girl.”

The singer, who turns 51 next week, is seeking treatment in New York, where she lives with her husband of 10 years, the one-time Divinyls drummer Charley Drayton [right]. “With my MS it makes my treatment a little more … difficult,” she said. “I can’t have radiation and things like that. But I have the best people here. And right now, the MS isn’t even bothering me – it’s the least of my problems. But I’m strong and I will get over this.

“I have love around me; I have my husband and I have a sister in Victoria who is also a breast cancer survivor.” The singer said she expected her Australian friends and fans to be upset she hadn’t told them earlier, “but it’s easier this way. A lot of people have wondered where I am, why I’m not answering emails … This is why.

“It’s shit and it’s unfair, but life is not fair – even rock stars get breast cancer. But there’ve been many girls before me who have dealt with it successfully. It’s easy to feel sorry for me but I feel sorry for people who are suffering it alone.”

Amphlett, the cousin of the 1960s pop icon “Little Pattie” Amphlett, rose to fame as the feisty lead singer of the Divinyls, who formed in 1980.

Famous for Amphlett’s sexy schoolgirl outfit, torn fishnets and wild on-stage antics, the Divinyls had their first hits, “Boys in Town” and “Only Lonely,” after appearing in the 1982 film Monkey Grip. They had four Top 10 albums in Australia and one in the US. Their biggest-selling single, “I Touch Myself,” in 1991, was a No.1 hit in Australia, and made the Top 10 in the US and Britain.

The band was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006, and, after a tour in 2007, split up. Amphlett, whose career will be celebrated in the exhibition Rock Chicks at Melbourne’s Arts Centre next month, is concentrating on her solo career. “I’m a very positive person,” she said. “I can deal with a lot. I’ve already proven it. And I can deal with this, too.”

April 22, 2013 Update: Divinyls Singer Chrissy Amphlett Dies – Monique Ross, ABC News (Australia).

April 26, 2013 Update: Chrissy Amphlett, 1959-2013 The Wild Reed.


Fran said...

Oh back in those days I loved the Divinyls! And I could not agree more with your assessment of the music - "I Touch Myself" was not the crown jewel. "Pleasure and Pain" and "Heart Telegraph" in particular were two of my real favorites.

Thanks for this, what a nice surprise to happen upon tonight!

Michael J. Bayly said...

You're so welcome, Fran! Glad you enjoyed this post.



paula key said...

A truly great performer and world acclaimed artist.
"I touch myself" is always in the Top Ten Hit Parade with lesbians. NOT a porn site