Men At Work’s saxophone and flute player Greg Ham has reportedly been found dead in his home in Melbourne.
Police confirmed they were investigating the discovery of a man’s body in Melbourne’s inner north, believed to be that of Ham. According to News Limited he was found by friends at a house this morning.
“Police have established a crime scene, and the local crime investigation unit are attempting to determine cause of death,” a spokeswoman said.
Ham had been a member of Men At Work from 1979 to 1986, and in 1996, after a ten-year absence, reunited with Colin Hay under the Men at Work moniker to tour South America, before playing the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games.
In recent years Ham was caught up in the ‘Down Under’ plagiarism controversy with the copyright holders of the campire tune ‘Kookaburra Sitting In The Old Gum Tree’.
‘Down Under’ was a number one song for the band around the world, including in the United States, Untied Kingdom, and here in Australia. The album the single is from, Business As Usual, was also a hit with audiences who took the album to #1 in the UK and USA.
A Federal Court judge in 2010 decided that Ham’s distinctive flute riff in Men At Work’s massively successful 1982 song had been copied from the song, and ordered the band pay five percent of the song’s royalties to the publishers of a classic children’s song, Larrikan Music.
“At the end of the day, I’ll end up selling my house,” Ham told The Age at the time, lamenting at the time that the royalties he had been living off would soon be ceasing as a result of the lawsuit.
“We’ll face massive legal costs,” Ham said. “I’ll never see another cent out of [Down Under] again.” But it was the tarnishing of his legacy that most bothered Ham. “It will be the way the song is remembered, and I hate that,” he said. “I’m terribly disappointed that it’s the way I’m going to be remembered – for copying something.”
Ham is survived by his wife and two children. We extend our sympathies to his friends, family, and fans.