TODAY'S PAPER
65° Good Afternoon
65° Good Afternoon
Long IslandObituaries

Men at Work's Greg Ham dies

SYDNEY -- Greg Ham, a member of the Australian band Men at Work whose saxophone and flute punctuated its smash 1980s hits, was found dead in his Melbourne home on Thursday.

Police said the death did not appear to be suspicious, though the cause was not immediately known. A friend who found the body said Ham, 58, hadn't been the same since 2010, when a court ruled that his signature flute riff from the song "Down Under" had been stolen from a classic campfire song.

Men at Work topped charts around the world in 1983 with "Down Under" and "Who Can It Be Now?" and won a Grammy that year for Best New Artist.

Frontman Colin Hay issued a statement expressing deep love for Ham, whom he met in 1972 when they were in high school. "We played in a band and conquered the world together," Hay said.

Two concerned friends who had not heard from Ham in some time found his body, police said.

Ham is perhaps best known for playing the flute riff for "Down Under," which remains an unofficial anthem for Australia. But the beloved tune came under intense scrutiny in recent years after the band was accused of stealing it from the children's campfire song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." The publisher of "Kookaburra" sued Men at Work, and in 2010 a judge ruled the band had copied the melody. The group was ordered to hand over a portion of its royalties, and lost its last appeal in October.

Ham later said the controversy had left him devastated, and he worried it would tarnish his legacy.

"It has destroyed so much of my song," he told Melbourne's The Age newspaper after the court ruling. "It will be the way the song is remembered, and I hate that. I'm terribly disappointed that that's the way I'm going to be remembered -- for copying something."

Ham played the saxophone on "Who Can It Be Now?" -- Hay noted that his rehearsal take was the one that made it on the record. Ham also played keyboard, and more recently worked as a guitar teacher.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Latest Long Island News