Greg Ham, flautist for the Australian rock band Men at Work, was found dead this week. Two friends of the musician grew concerned for the 58-year-old's well being after not hearing from him for several days. He was found lifeless in his Melbourne home.
"Because of the early stages of our investigation, we're not prepared to go into the exact details of what has occurred," Detective Senior Sergeant Shane O'Connell said.
Ham and his Men at Work bandmates first came to international prominence with the release of their album "Business as Usual" in 1983. A single from the album, the iconic "Down Under" became a huge international hit, landing at number 1 on US, UK and Australian charts. The song's campy description of Australian life and culture alongside a distinctive flute riff led to widespread interest in all things Australian for American audiences. The song remains a staple on US radio, film and television. The group were given a Grammy Award in 1983 as that year's "Best New Artist", allegedly causing a 400 percent spike in American sales of Vegemite, a popular Australian food paste.
While the group had no further international hits, they remained popular in their native Australia. Though they disbanded in 1985, the group reunited in the mid-90s. In the late 2000s, a copyright infringement lawsuit was brought against the band, EMI and Sony BMG by Larrikin Music, copyright owners of a traditional Australian folk song titled "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree", written by Marion Sinclair in 1934. The lawsuit alleged that Ham's flute riff was taken directly from the song.
Though Sinclair died in 1968, Men at Work lost the case and were ordered to pay a percentage of royalties to Larrikin in perpetuity. According to sources, the verdict was a devastating blow to Greg Ham, who denied any attempt at copyright infringement in the case.
"It will be the way the song is remembered and I hate that," he said at the time of the ruling. "I'm terribly disappointed that that's the way I'm going to be remembered – for copying something."
Personally, I don't hear a strong enough similarity. I'd have been upset, too. We at Music Forte give Greg Ham all the credit