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Christina Amphlett of the band the Divinyls, best known for the 1991 hit “I Touch Myself,” died Sunday at her home in New York. She was 53.
The singer announced she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007 and also had been fighting breast cancer since 2010.
Amphlett and guitarist Marc McEntee formed the Divinyls in Sydney in 1980 and went on to release five studio albums that yielded as many hit singles on their home turf. But it was “I Touch Myself,” which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite its controversial chorus — “I don’t want anybody else/When I think about you/I touch myself” — that went far beyond the borders of Australasia, becoming a bona fide U.S. radio hit in the days of pregrunge pop.
Chrissy Amphlett, as she was nicknamed, toured on and off with her band throughout the 1990s and again from 2006 to 2009. She married former Divinyls drummer Charley Drayton in 1999 and released a well-received autobiography, Pleasure and Pain: My Life, in 2005. For the past 14 years, Amphlett had been living in New York City with her husband, whose recent credits include work on the Fiona Apple album The Idler Wheel …
In a statement announcing Amphlett’s death, her cousin Patricia “Little Pattie” Thompson wrote, “With her force of character and vocal strength, she paved the way for strong, sexy, outspoken women.” She also noted that Amphlett had hoped “I Touch Myself” would inspire women to perform regular breast self-examinations.
Read the statement in its entirety below:
“Our beloved Chrissy peacefully made her transition this morning. 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 14 years, musician Charley Drayton, her sister Leigh, nephew Matt, and cousin Patricia Thompson (“Little Pattie”).
“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. Best remembered as the lead singer of the ARIA Hall of Fame inductee Divinyls, last month she was named one of Australia’s top 10 singers of all time. Chrissy expressed hope that her worldwide hit I Touch Myself would remind women to perform annual breast examinations. Chrissy was a true pioneer and a treasure to all whose lives her music and spirit touched.”
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