Scots rocker will ‘never forgive’ song lawsuit after Men At Work bandmate’s suicide

The Scot who led 80s Australian rock band Men At Work has vowed to “never forgive” those who brought a lawsuit over their anthem Down Under after his bandmate took his own life.

The band were sued in 2009 by Larrikin Music over claims Down Under’s flute riff copied the nursery rhyme Kookaburra, whose publishing rights were owned by Larrikin.

An Australian court ruled in 2010 in favour of Larrikin, and awarded the music publisher five per cent of Down Under royalties, ­backdated to 2002.

The case cost the band hundreds of thousands of dollars and plunged them into financial hardship.

The court ruling took a devastating toll on Men At Work ­saxophonist Greg Ham, who played the flute line on Down Under. He reportedly slipped into drug and alcohol abuse and took his own life at his home in 2012 at the age of 58.

Greg Ham and Colin Hay in their Men At Work heyday.
Greg Ham and Colin Hay in their Men At Work heyday.

Colin was born and raised in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, before moving to Australia where he found fame in the 80s. He co-wrote Down Under in 1980 and it went on to make No1 all over the world.

He said: “There are certain aspects about it that I’ll never forgive people for.It caused a lot of pain and personal loss.

“Greg felt enormous guilt over playing that line. He felt awful about the fact the court case was initiated on a flute line he played. It didn’t help his state of mind at all.”

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Colin added: “I miss him terribly. I think about him all the time.”

The rights to Kookaburra had been purchased by a music publisher, which sued Men At Work and their label, seeking backdated royalties along with a share of future profits from the song.

Colin described his late bandmate as a “man with a golden heart”.

Colin Hay of Men At Work performs on stage in 2018.
Colin Hay of Men At Work performs on stage in 2018.

Following the break-up of Men at Work, Colin launched a career as a solo artist and has gone on to release a dozen albums, including his most recent ­full-length, Now and the Evermore.

He also landed a number of film and TV roles, including on Scrubs, and more recently A Million Little Things.

In 2019 he began touring with a new line-up of Men at Work and plans a UK tour with them next year. He also tours with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.

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Daily Record – Aberdeen