This is just a small selection of photographs of public tributes to Chrissy Amphlett in both her home towns, Geelong and Melbourne. Pictured are early shots from the first street art at Amphlett Lane, off Little Bourke Street, Melbourne – and at her memorial off James Street, Geelong.
This walking tour will take you from Amphlett Lane to The Vault and give visitors to Victoria all the information they need to find more tributes to Chrissy beyond Melbourne – with expert commentary from very special guests.
Referencing Chrissy’s autobiography (with Larry Writer) Pleasure and Pain, the 30-40 minute Melbourne walk will include important landmarks in her life – from Collins Street to Melbourne’s famous laneways – passing Flinders Street Station – one of the city’s gateways to Geelong, where Chrissy grew up.
Melbourne Lanes in Chrissy’s Life
“It was the most wonderful thing; I don’t know why they don’t do it nowadays. During our lunch hour, we’d see bands such as The Easybeats, The Wild Cherries, The Purple Hearts and The Loved Ones.” Mary Renshaw, Live Wire, Allen & Unwin 2015.
Mary Renshaw was a close companion of Bon Scott’s in the same era that Chrissy Amphlett was discovering Melbourne’s inner-city music. Mary was visiting clubs like 10th Avenue on Bourke Street, and The Bowl, beneath a bowling alley in Degraves Street, near Flinders Street Station, en route to today’s Music Vault.
It was at 10th Avenue that Mary made friends with Bon Scott and made him hippie beads and a velvet bolero, while he was in The Valentines’ share house with Vince Lovegrove (later to manage Chrissy and Divinyls).
As part of Chrissy’s tour, you’ll be passing the Flinders Street and Swanston Street intersection that was immortalised by AC/DC in their flatbed-truck clip for (It’s A) Long Way to The Top.
Also on the map – Spring Street, which fronts onto Little Bourke Street, off Amphlett Lane. It was at 1 Spring Street that AC/DC had a residency at Bertie’s. It opened, alcohol-free, in 1967 to ringing endorsements from someone who could come to know Chrissy well – Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum.
“I can only say that in my vast experience in the disco scene in Melbourne, and indeed the whole world, that unquestionably Bertie’s rates absolutely first class,’ Meldrum raved at the time.
You can read more in Live Wire, which is a great guide to the city and decade that Chrissy knew so well.
The Chrissy Amphlett Tour podcast is produced by Jessica Adams and Charley Drayton with funding assistance from the Victorian State Government. Thanks to @AmphlettLane on Twitter for the Geelong images.
Jenny Valentish talks exclusively to ARIA Hall of Fame inductee – Patricia Amphlett, Chrissy’s cousin.
In the glamorous surrounds of Sydney’s QT hotel, Patricia Amphlett settles into a houndstooth armchair to summarise her life’s greatest hits into my dictaphone. Then she leaps up to mount a sofa and watch the Palestinians’ protest march pass by on Market Street.
“Wonderful,” she says, beckoning me over for a good view out of the window. Beneath us, the parade furls around onto George Street, bookended by police on horseback.
“They had so many women leading the march last week,” she says in approval; then patiently explains to a curious tourist what the purpose is of holding such a protest in Australia. Patricia has a way of speaking that’s both measured in pace and passionate in language, quite similar to her cousin Chrissy.
We first met when the campaign began for a Chrissy Amphlett laneway. Patricia toured potential laneways with Jessica Adams and Chrissy’s husband Charley Drayton and I. She enlightened us on what obstacles we may run into through the approval process, in the way that only someone who has recently been awarded a lifetime membership of the Labor Party can.
Pictured: the last stage of a search for a laneway for Chrissy begins with Jenny Valentish, Charley Drayton and Patricia’s husband, Lawrie Thompson
And now we’re here to reminisce on some key points in her career, and talk about what wonderful memorabilia she has stashed away at home that she can contribute to the digital Australian Music Museum – such as a photograph of the ‘It’s Time’ T-shirt she wore during the Gough Whitlam campaign, or the high-heeled Charles Jourdan sneakers that she’d worn on stage during the late-’60s.
Let’s go back to that first decade of Little Pattie’s career. Unusually for an era in which cover versions were king, her earliest material with EMI – ‘He’s My Blonde Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy’ and ‘Stompin at Maroubra’ – was written specifically for the fourteen-year-old, capitalising on her cute blonde bangs and surfie wardrobe. But I wonder if she was actually as acquainted with a surfboard as the Beach Boys were – i.e., with the exception of Dennis Wilson, not at all.
“I did attempt to ride a surfboard or two, but when you’re fourteen and you live near the beach, the two main reasons for going to the beach were boys and getting a sun tan,” she admits. “I don’t think I was successful in either of those wishes. As much as we lay there and giggled in our tiny triangle bikinis, the only time the boys came with us was when they were hungry. They’d rock up and say, ‘Any youse girls going to the shops?’”
These days a teenage act signed to a major record company might expect to be groomed and marketed within an inch of their lives, but Patricia remembers having to be much more of a self-starter than that.
“The executives and producers at EMI were fantastic towards me,” she acknowledges first. “Money wasn’t an issue and they protected me; I know that recording companies aren’t as supportive these days and the cost is carried by the performers and musicians. But there was no team as such. When I think of Chrissy, she had quite an entourage around her on occasions. I’m not sure I would have liked that.
“I think we were all genuine pioneers of the pop industry, thrown in at the deep end,” she says of her peers, such as Lynne Randell, Noeleen Batley, Marcie Jones and Betty McQuade. “We learned our craft as we went along. I had singing lessons and piano lessons, but that was all my training.”
While the moniker Little Pattie suggests an artist of inconsequential importance, she has disproved this time and time again by aligning herself with causes. In 1972 she spearheaded Gough Whitlam’s ‘It’s Time’ campaign (and is still a board member of the Whitlam Institute – part of the University of Western Sydney).
“My family would sit around and talk about politics, though it’s still considered fairly impolite to do so in public” she laughs. “My parents were Labor people and for what I thought were very good reasons. In 1972 it felt like the pendulum had swung and Labor could win the election. Gough Whitlam was charismatic and a man of integrity. People who had some overseas experiences, perhaps in Europe or America, felt that Australia was in the doldrums and culturally very starchy. It was time for a change.”
Jingle writers at an advertising company were employed to write the famous ‘It’s Time’ track, with some 50 household names filmed for the commercial. “We were sick of Australia going backwards,” Patricia says of the sentiment that united them.
In 1976, Little Pattie went off to Vietnam to entertain the troops – and she still counts them as her faithful fans – and friends – appearing at a Vietnam Veteran’s Day concert in Brisbane recently on August 18th.
“They’re my heroes really,” she says. “I think they’re under-recognised and misunderstood, because that particular war we had to learn quite a bit from in terms of how to treat soldiers when they come home. These days you’re offered counselling and treated very differently. The public felt as though we’d ‘lost’ the Vietnam War, which was an incredibly unpopular war anyway, and so our troops didn’t come back as heroes. But the government sent them there.”
Patricia carried on this tradition by playing to troops in Iraq in both 2005 and 2006. Not many recording artists could say they’ve stayed in one of Saddam Hussein’s old palaces, but then not many artists stay the distance when it comes to their beliefs.
“Going to Vietnam changed me as a person in a positive way, because until I was seventeen, I was spoon fed,” she says. “None of us had to do much deep thinking about things and we accept everything around us. Going to a war zone and seeing such horrible things, and seeing soldiers just a little younger than I, wondering why they’re there, it shaped the way I am today, to a great degree.”
In 1986, Patricia married Lawrie Thompson, then the drummer with the Channel Nine orchestra and band. They met when she appeared on daytime television. “People would say, ‘Oh, you both married drummers,’” she laughs, referring to Chrissy’s husband (and former Divinyls drummer) Charley Drayton. “And Chrissy would say, ‘Yes, but mine’s black.’ She was outrageous.”
YouTube Video: Chrissy Inducts Little Pattie – ‘Aria Hall Of Fame’ 2009
While it’s little known, Patricia and Lawrie were leading a double life in Quorrobolong on the edge of the Hunter Valley. They both completed a class in animal husbandry at tech (Patricia topped the class) and then bred Murray grey cattle, learning how to farm as they went along. After ten years they gave up the farm when Lawrie got an enviable gig drumming in Sydney six nights a week. “We never quite became hardened farmers – we had to ear tag them, of course, but on the tags we put the names of jazz musicians and rock musicians instead of farmers.”
It was about bloody time, when Patricia Amphlett was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006 – by none other than Chrissy Amphlett. “She was a lot sicker than she said she was,” Patricia says sadly. “She was so brave and beautiful to do that.”
In her speech, Chrissy says of Pattie, “She was my hero when Mum would gather us around to watch Bandstand. Tricia was a super star in the ’60s, which was a tough call. She was determined to survive and succeed, and she’s done just that.”
Chrissy shared with the audience Patricia’s work with Vietnam veteran amputees: “She’d take a delegation of them to Vietnam and they’d sit in front of the Vietcong amputees and try and forgive each other. She’d sit at the end of the table, and two former enemies were brought together by Little Pattie – this 4’10” woman in her high heels and battle gear, sitting weeping alongside these burly men, also weeping.”
The icing on the cake was a “lovely letter” from Gough Whitlam, offering his congratulations.
Patricia continues to be a high achiever, managing to fit in performing, music teaching (Nikki Webster is a past student) being president of the MEAA, board member of the National Film and Sound Archive; a trustee of the Jessie Street Trust and a patron of Forces Entertainment.
At exactly ten years Chrissy’s senior, Patricia says she gave the Divinyls singer advice when she asked for it, “but she didn’t need it really. I didn’t realise I was a pioneer in my era, but she was the best pioneer, because she made it de rigeur for women to front a band and be equal, if not superior, to men. Before she came along… no matter how many hit records I had, I never topped a bill, because it was a bloke’s business. It’s quite amazing that female performers are as supportive of our male colleagues as we are.”
The idea of a laneway in Chrissy’s honour is one that Patricia feels strongly about. “I thought: of course! Why not? It’s a given. Most of my family is from Melbourne so I was aware of all the lanes named after famous people. I will be eternally grateful to all the people involved in this wonderful campaign and I think we’ll all cry when it happens,” she says. “Chrissy would get off on it big time. So often, I say, ‘Why isn’t she here?’ She’d love the I Touch Myself project and she’d love the laneway. She’d probably say to me, ‘That’s my lane!’ and be childlike with her love for it. She’d walk up and down it, probably incognito, sussing out who was walking along her lane and who was looking at her name.”
Chrissy Amphlett loved dogs and bred them. At Amphlett Lane in Melbourne, a black Pekingese called Holiday (named after Billie Holiday) is now watching over her mistress. Chrissy Amphlett and her dogs were immortalised in stages and have since become a social media hit. These are just a few of the many photographs, below.
The award-winnng Tasmanian artist Peter Gouldthorpe was commissioned to create the mural. Since then, fans and Melbourne visitors have flocked to the portrait of Holiday, Saki, Tuppence and Dobro to take photographs on Instagram and Twitter. You can read more about Chrissy’s dogs in her autobiography, Pleasure and Pain. This great portrait of Chrissy Amphlett is by Reg Ryan, from social media.
The Chrissy Amphlett dogs, school uniform and Divinyls amplifier make a popular backdrop for fan photographs on Instagram and Twitter. Famous visitors to the Amphlett Lane include Blondie drummer Clem Burke and Paul Kelly.
Chrissy Amphlett and her dogs required an award-winning animal portrait painter. Peter Gouldthorpe’s dog murals also adorn Hobart.
Holiday, Saki, Tuppence and Dobro
Holiday stands on an amplifier bearing the name of Amphlett’s legendary band Divinyls, joined by Saki, Tuppence and Dobro her dalmatian. It is a mural that has been created from photographs lent by her husband Charley Drayton, drummer with Cold Chisel. You can see the mural being developed by Peter Gouldthorpe in stages, here. The hidden fire hose unit, bottom, became a Divinyls amplifier in his hands.
Chrissy Amphlett’s famous uniform at Amphlett Lane, Melbourne.
Holiday – Always by Chrissy’s Side
Holiday went everywhere with Chrissy and Charley, appropriately enough on holiday to Puerto Rico once, where the airline also let Chrissy put the Pekingese on the seat next to her, flying over. Later on in Chrissy’s life Holiday became her loyal companion during her breast cancer and MS: Chrissy told fans ‘My little dog Holiday lies on the end of the bed when I am not feeling great and doesn’t leave my side.’
Amphlett Lane also features a plaque donated by the City of Melbourne and a lane way screen mural by Melbourne artist Damien Arena.
Peter Gouldthorpe and His Street Art
Artist Peter Gouldthorpe’s work includes the 1994 Picture Book of the Year, First Light. He has illustrated books by Paul Jennings, John Marsden, Colin Thiele, C.J. Dennis and Ethel Turner. He’s one of the heavy lifters of Australian illustration, painting and street art.
Mural process photographs by Peter Gouldthorpe, with special thanks.
The Pop Into Randwick exhibition in Sydney has put the career of Little Pattie back in the spotlight in Australia.
Little Pattie – Patricia Amphlett – has inspired generations of loyal fans in Australia and collector and friend Robyn Fagan has kindly lent photographs of her fan scrapbook to AMMP.
The Amphlett Beat Goes On
On 27 August 2009, Patricia, known professionally as Little Pattie, was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame alongside Kev Carmody, The Dingoes, Mental As Anything and John Paul Young by Chrissy Amphlett, her cousin.
The family beat goes on and the late, great Chrissy Amphlett has lent her name and face to tributes in Geelong, where she grew up – and in Melbourne. In the ACT another Amphlett Lane twist – Amphlett Street in the suburb of Moncrieff – also keeps the Amphlett beat going.
Patricia Amphlett Fan Collections Historians and curators often turn to fans for their collections. Someone who has been a lifelong fan, particularly of Little Pattie, is Robyn Fagan. Robyn runs Patricia’s Facebook page. She has some rare memorabilia too (below) which she passed onto AMMP including a wonderful photo-booth moment in time.
Beyond the Little Pattie Scrapbook
How did Robyn’s fandom and friendship begin?
Robyn – ‘I was 13 years old at the end of 1964 when Little Pattie’s record He’s My Blonde Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy/Stompin’ at Maroubra began getting lots of airplay on Sydney radio stations. It became the first record that I ever bought and I played both sides constantly.
One day I heard the DJ say that it was by ’15 year old Sydney schoolgirl Little Pattie and I was gobsmacked that, not only someone from Sydney but someone who was only a little older than me, could be singing on the radio.
It immediately became my mission to find out all about her and I remember raiding all the old newspapers and magazines in my parent’s garage to see what I could find. And there began the first of many scrapbooks of photos and stories that I have collected about Pattie over the last 50 years.”
The Birthday Party
In April 1964 I saw Pattie in person for the first time at Sydney Stadium and then at several store appearances and fetes. I started sending her fan mail and sometimes included newspaper clippings about the Beatles and Judy Garland because I knew they were her favourite singers.
Later that year she wrote back thanking me, gave me her address and said to visit any time I was nearby. Early in 1965 I plucked up enough courage to make the hour and a half trip by two buses and a train to make the visit, not even expecting her to be home. She greeted me with a big hug when I told her who I was. That was the beginning of many social outings together – and meeting up at her gigs – and we have remained close friends to this day.
I invited Pattie to my 16th birthday party. My friends didn’t believe me when I told them she was coming so they were surprised when she walked through my door and even more surprised at how friendly and down-to-earth she was for someone so well-known.
Running the Little Pattie Fan Club
I took over her fan club in 1966 which I ran until 1973. There were over 300 members from all over Australia, many of whom wrote regular letters asking questions about Pattie, wanting her autograph and so on. The members were sent a membership card when they joined and I sent out a newsletter every month or two with all the latest news, upcoming shows and photographs.
We held picnics every few months which Pattie attended. One of the fan club newsletters is in the Powerhouse Museum archives and has been on public display in two of their exhibitions as an example of a typical fan club newsletter of the time.
From Scrapbooks to Social Media
A few years ago I decided to start a fan page for Pattie on Facebook and regularly post photographs, news and gigs. There are currently 3,580 followers and I get a lot of messages from fans and old friends wanting to get in touch with her and media wanting to interview her, as it’s the only way most people know of getting in touch with her. It kind of feels like the old days of running the fan club all over again, but in a different format to back when I had to handwrite or type replies and post everything out by mail. It’s so much easier these days with the joys of modern technology.
The Many Moods of Little Pattie
My most precious single is Pattie’s first release as it was the first record I ever bought as a teenager and led to what has become a lifelong friendship. My favourite album is her first, ‘The Many Moods of Little Pattie’, probably for the same reasons and also because I still remember how cool it was to be one of the few kids in my crowd to own this and listen to Pattie singing many different types of music. This album is very rare and hardly ever seen for sale.
Vietnam and Patricia Amphlett
The most rare singles I have are Pattie’s three Japanese releases from 1966/67, two of which she sings in Japanese and one a re-release of one of her Aussie hits. These were recorded in Japan when she and Col Joye visited after their tour of Vietnam. I also have the extremely rare red acetate prototype versions of these singles that Pattie gave me. I have every single, EP, LP & CD that Pattie has ever released.
Photographs copyright Robyn Fagan. Photograph of Patricia and Chrissy on Pinterest. Photograph of Patricia in Vietnam from the Arts Centre, Melbourne – Jessica Adams.
AMMP (Australian Music Museum Project) is a not-for-profit digital archive and links hub keeping 20th century Australian music alive online. It was set up to help the nationwide push for dedicated museum spaces honouring Australian music and musicians, along with public space – like Amphlett Lane, Melbourne – for future generations of music fans to enjoy.
Come here to find out more about the national network of lobby groups and campaigners pushing to keep Australia’s historic music venues preserved and for regular updates on important developments – from Brisbane walking tours to Melbourne podcasts. If you would like to get in touch, please do so using the forms on this website.
Chrissy Amphlett will have a Melbourne podcast and walking tour dedicated to her, following funding by the Victorian State Government. The walk, starting in Amphlett Lane, will take fans around the city with a unique audio soundtrack. Minister for Creative Industries in Victoria, Martin Foley, launched the project among many other music initiatives in Melbourne in 2017.
The Chrissy Amphlett Walk will begin at Amphlett Lane.
FROM AMPHLETT LANE TO THE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC VAULT
The map, podcast and walk wil take visitors from Amphlett Lane, past the Princess Theatre where Chrissy starred in Boys From Oz – and the Palace Theatre where Divinyls played with Joan Jett in 1995.
Fans can then cross Melbourne towards the Arts Centre, home to the new Australian Music Vault. Carolyn Laffan is the Senior Curator whose insights on the Chrissy Amphlett archive will end the tour, featuring special guests, music and personal memories.
Amphlett Lane, October 2016.
CHRISSY AMPHLETT – THE MELBOURNE CONNECTION
Chrissy grew up in Geelong, where street art based on her life is already in place, – but she also has a long history in Melbourne, starting at the Collins Street Baptist Church.
This is an important stop on the walking tour, as this is where she was welcomed into the world and also farewelled at a memorial service. Amphlett also worked at The House of Mr. John and Merivale, also in Collins Street.
Amphlett Lane (below) at the front end of the approximate 30-minute walking tour is an Instagram favourite with fans and some famous friends, like Clem Burke’s Blondie.
Chrissy’s walking tour will launch in time for Summer 2018/2019. Amphlett Lane artist Peter Gouldthorpe’s mural work was recently heritage listed.