Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett, known for the Australian band’s 1991 hit “I Touch Myself,” died yesterday at home in New York after battling breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, Reuters reports. She was 53.
Amphlett said in 2007 that she had multiple sclerosis, and announced in 2010 that she was fighting breast cancer. Her husband, former Divinyls drummer Charlie Drayton, said she died in her sleep, surrounded by friends and family.
“Chrissy’s light burns so very brightly,” Dratyon wrote in a statement on the Australian Recording Industry Association’s website. “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.”
Amphlett formed Divinyls with guitarist Mark McEntee in Sydney in 1980, and the band recorded five albums between 1982 and 1996, when they split. Amphlett emphasized sex appeal, performing in fishnet stockings and a schoolgirl uniform that became a defining image of Divinyls thanks to the video for “I Touch Myself,” which was the band’s most successful single. The song, from the group’s last album, Divinyls, was a hit in Australia, Britain and the U.S., where it reached Number Four on the Billboard Hot 100.
Born in the south Australian port city of Geelong, Amphlett moved to Europe as a teen, where she was arrested for singing on the street, before moving back to Australia to form Divinyls. She also worked as a stage and film actress, starring opposite Russell Crowe in a 1988 production of the musical Blood Brothers.
Crowe tweeted about her death, writing, “Dear Chrissie,[sic] The last time I saw you was in the Botanic Gardens, loving life and reciting verse. That’s how I’ll remember you, your boy, R.”