Greg Ham, from the Australian pop group Men at Work, was found dead on Thursday, April 19th at the age of 58. He was found outside his Melbourne home by two friends who went looking for him the same day. No cause of death has been formally released as of yet.
Originally, Ham joined the group to replace Greg Sneddon in 1979. After joining, the group earned two No. 1 singles and albums with Down Under and Business As Usual in both the U.S. and U.K.
While Down Under is a favorite around the world, in Australia the song is regarded as the unofficial national anthem. For years now it has been played at various sporting occasions, most famously during the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
However, in 2010 the song was the target of a copyright battle. The group lost the battle and was ordered by the Australian Federal Court to pay 5% of all royalties for plagiarizing the flute refrain from the song from a popular children’s campfire song titled Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree.
At the time, Ham told reporters that:
“The copyright battle has destroyed so much of my song. 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.”
Former bandmate Colin Hay spoke about his friend’s death this week, calling Ham ”clearly loved“ and “a man with a golden heart.” Aside from being an all around good person, Ham will also be remembered for his musical talent and ability to play numerous instruments (saxophone, flute, organ, piano and the synthesizer) with ease.
RIP Greg Ham, you will be missed!