Greg Ham From Men at Work Found Dead

This has not been a good week for the entertainment world folks. Dick Clark. Jonathon Frid. Levon Helm. And now, another death in that world has hit upon us. This time, it’s Greg Ham, who you may not know by name, but you certainly know him by ear as the man who played the saxophone for the Australian 1980s pop band, Men at Work, whose signature notes on their smash “Who Can It Be Now?” was as memorable and guiltily pleasurable as another song with an instantly recognizable sax pattern, Wham’s “Careless Whisper.” Ham also played flute and his opening notes on their other smash hit “Down Under” is also firmly etched in the consciousness of all who were there in the 1980s and the generations that followed.

The LA Times reports that Ham was found dead on April 19th by two friends who grew concerned after not hearing from him for about a week. His cause of death is still undetermined. In a press release given to Fox News, lead singer of Men at Work, Colin Hay, stated that “We played in a band and conquered the world together…. I love him very much, he’s a beautiful man.”

Ham joined Men at Work in 1979 and also played keyboards and harmonica for the group, along with his flute and sax work. The band found massive success in 1981 with the release of Business as Usual, which was instrumental in winning the band a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1983. “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under,” which pretty much singlehandedly introduced this country to Australian vernacular and culture, got heavy rotation on MTV and radio stations everywhere at the time. (In the video for “Down Under” – embedded here below – Ham can be seen playing flute up in a tree with a baby koala bear perched on him.) 1982 was their watershed year, as the band sold millions of records with their quirky, very 80s pop style.

Those opening notes on “Down Under” by the way were also the subject of plagiarism, as it was believed that the flute line originally came from an Australian children’s song entitled “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.” The band lost a court bid last year to prove otherwise.

Ham remained with Men at Work until 1985. Later in his life, he became a music teacher, teaching guitar to students and assessing them for the Victorian Certificate of Education.

Ham was 58 years old. Another loss in entertainment, the head spins like a top out of control for sure at all this tragic news that has beset us this week.

RIP Greg Ham
September 27, 1953 – April 19, 2012

Video: Men at Work “Down Under”

[Source: LA Times]

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Topics: Music, News, Obit
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