A Brief History of Divinyls

Divinyls formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1980. Legend has it that guitarist Mark McEntee first saw vocalist Christina Amphlett performing with a church choir at the Sydney Opera House, and took notice of her when the cord of the microphone she was using became tangled on her stool, which she proceeded to knock over and drag across the stage, singing all the while. Mark: "From that moment, I knew something had to be done, that we should form a group."

The pair began writing songs and playing in bars in the Kings Cross area of Australia, joined by guitarist/keyboardist Bjarne Ohlin, bassist Jeremy Paul, and drummer Richard Harvey. The band were spotted performing by director Ken Cameron, who was casting parts for the film Monkey Grip. Christina landed a small role in the film, and the band recorded seven songs for the soundtrack with producer Mark Opitz, released in 1982 as the EP Music from Monkey Grip. Soon after this Rick Grossman replaced Jeremy Paul on bass.

Divinyls were courted by various major labels, and ultimately the group signed with Chrysalis. In 1982 the band temporarily relocated to New York to record their first proper album, Desperate, again working with producer Mark Opitz. The group embarked on its first U.S. tour in 1983 in support of the album, beginning with an appearance at the US Festival. Singles released from the first album included "Science Fiction," "Siren (Never Let You Go)," a re-recorded version of "Casual Encounter," and "Only Lonely."

The band began recording their second album, What A Life!, with Mark Opitz in Australia in 1984, but were unsatisfied with the direction the album was taking. After completing the tracks "Don't You Go Walking," "Motion," and "Casual Encounter," they moved to Los Angeles to work with producer (and member of the Art Of Noise) Gary Langan on "Good Die Young," "In My Life," "Heart Telegraph," "Guillotine Day," and "Dear Diary." Finally, Mike Chapman worked with the band on "Pleasure And Pain" and "Sleeping Beauty." The album was released in 1985, achieving moderate success in the U.S.

It would be three years before the band would release their third album, 1988's Temperamental, produced by Mike Chapman. At this point the band consisted of Amphlett and McEntee, supported by bassist Tim Milliken and drummer Warren McLean. Three singles were released from the album, "Back To The Wall," "Punxsie," and a spirited cover of Syndicate of Sound's "Hey Little Boy" (originally called "Hey Little Girl"). Despite a consistently growing audience, the album was not as successful as Chrysalis would have liked, and the band were dropped by the label.

The band's real breakthrough in the United States would come in 1991, with the release of their fourth album, "diVINYLS." After writing much of the material in Paris, the album was recorded at various locations in California, featuring Randy Jackson on bass, Charley Drayton on drums, and production by David Tickle. Released on Virgin Records (no doubt to Chrysalis' chagrin), the controversial single "I Touch Myself" was a major hit, reaching the Top 10 in the U.S. and Number One in Australia. Additional singles released from the album included "Love School," "Make Out Alright," and "I'm On Your Side."

While record companies were quick to capitalize on their success by releasing the Essential collection of hits from the first three albums, and the Divinyls Live authorized bootleg in 1991, the band did not rush to put out new studio material. In the early 1990s they recorded a series of cover songs for various film soundtracks, including the Young Rascals' "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Wild Ones' "Wild Thing" for Reckless Kelly, and Roxy Music's "Love Is The Drug" for Super Mario Brothers.

It wasn't until 1996 that Underworld, the fifth album, was released in Australia by BMG. Despite the success of the previous album, Virgin did not keep the band under contract, and BMG did not release the album in the U.S. As with What A Life!, the group worked with three producers on Underworld, beginning with "I'm Jealous," recorded in Nashville with Peter Collins, followed by "Sex Will Keep Us Together" and "Heart Of Steel," recorded with Keith Forsey. Although "Heart Of Steel" was chosen as a single, the band decided to discontinue working with Forsey, because, in Amphlett's words, "he was a bit too 'pop' for us." The remaining tracks were produced by Charley Drayton, who also provided drums on both diVINYLS and Underworld.

Following Underworld Amphlett began to focus on a stage career, starring in Australian productions of the musicals Blood Brothers and The Boy From Oz. Her autobiography, Pleasure and Pain: My Life was published in 2005.

In 2007 a new Divinyls single, Don't Wanna Do This, was released, and the band toured Australia and performed at the Homebake rock festival in Australia. The 2007 Homebake 07 compilation CD included with the Sydney Morning Herald featured the Divinyls song, "All Pretty Things."

In 2009 Chirstina Amplett declared she was forming a new band, putting an end to the Divinyls career. In 2013 Amphlett died of breast cancer, which could not be treated effectively due to an underlying diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. She will be dearly missed.

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