This is the worst article I have ever had to write. The news is still fresh in my senses, and I’m still yet to fully believe it.
Chrissy Amphlett, Divinyls frontwoman and queen of Australian rock, is gone.
The hole she has left behind is enormous. I’m stuck in a loop of watching old Divinyls videos on YouTube and reading tributes on Facebook and Twitter. It isn’t making me any less sad, but it is fortifying to see just how spectacular she was, and to know this is how she will be remembered. She truly was amazing.
However, because she was such a phenomenon, Amphlett’s legacy is both a blessing and a curse for those women who dream of fronting their own rock bands.
On one hand, she was proof that it is (I refuse to say ‘was’) possible to be a rock god and wear a skirt at the same time. She gave girls something to aspire to that was full of power and spice without being horribly commercialised and exploitative. She had a voice that was instantly recognisable in one context, yet could completely transform into another role when the need arose. She could turn on every person in a room with a look, irrespective of sexual preference. She demanded your attention. She was, undoubtedly, a force to be reckoned with.
On the other hand, she set an impossibly high benchmark for those to come. She had so much presence and confidence on stage, and was so incredibly unique as a performer that those who came after her were always bound to suffer comparisons to her greatness. I can vividly remember the first time I saw Bloody Lovely Audrey play, and how I was immediately struck by the lack of “Chrissy factor” in the performance. (If you see them these days, you’ll notice that they no longer need worry about me thinking that ever again.) There was so much to Amphlett’s performance that it is a massive task to even attempt to do justice to the expectations her ability put on female rock singers in general.
She was also a woman of excess. Her stage persona was aggressive and wild, and that bled into her private life, making her famously difficult to live with. However, she was also delightfully cheeky and sexy, right up until her last years, proving that it was worth weathering the storm to see her true magnificence.
Chrissy Amphlett was a remarkable singer, songwriter and woman. Those who had the chance to see her perform live are truly blessed; those who met and knew her, even more so. As a lass who counts her as an inspiration to jump into the male-dominated world of radio and music writing, I wish I had been one of either number.
It is unlikely we will ever see a lady as wonderful as her ever again. That should not stop us hoping, however, that she will inspire a new wave of frontwomen to take up the torch, bringing forth a new wave of feminine power in rock dedicated to doing her proud.
Chrissy Amphlett blazed a trail for women in rock music. Now she is gone, there is a big hole that needs filling, and I look forward to encountering the next great lady of Australian rock and roll destined to fill it. I get the feeling it’s what she would have wanted.
Chrissy Amphlett, former lead singer for Divinyls, actress and author, passed away Thursday 21st April in New York, after a long battle with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. She is survived by her husband, Charley Drayton, and leaves a legacy as one of the great voices of Australian rock music. She was 53.