Men At Work
Men at Work were an Australian rock band best known for their 1981 hit “Down Under”. Formed in 1979, their founding mainstay was Colin Hay on lead vocals; he formed the group with Jerry Speiser on drums and Ron Strykert on lead guitar. They were joined by Greg Ham on flute, saxophone, and keyboards and John Rees on bass guitar. This line-up achieved national and international success in the early 1980s. In January 1983, they were the first Australian artists to have a simultaneous No. 1 album and No. 1 single in the United States Billboard charts – Business as Usual (released on 9 November 1981) and “Down Under” (1981), respectively.
With the same works, they achieved the same distinction of a simultaneous No. 1 album and No. 1 single on the Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom charts. Their second album, Cargo (2 May 1983) was also No. 1 in Australia, No. 2 in New Zealand, No. 3 in the US, and No. 8 in the UK. Their third album, Two Hearts (3 April 1985), reached the top 20 in Australia and top 50 in the US.
At the Grammy Awards of 1983 they won the Best New Artist category; while at the ARIA Music Awards of 1994 they were inducted into the related Hall of Fame. Men at Work have sold over 30 million albums worldwide. According to Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, “[i]rrespective of the band’s fairytale rise to prominence, [their] phenomenal success inextricably created worldwide interest in Australia and Australian music … [they] simply opened the floodgates with little more than a clutch of great songs” The group disbanded in 1986 and reformed in 1996 to disband again by 2002.
In May 2001 “Down Under” was listed at No. 4 on the APRA Top 30 Australian songs and Business as Usual appeared in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums (October 2010). In February 2010 Larrikin Music Publishing won a case against Hay and Strykert, their record label (Sony BMG Music Entertainment) and music publishing company (EMI Songs Australia) arising from the uncredited appropriation of “Kookaburra” for the flute line in “Down Under”. On 19 April 2012 Greg Ham was found dead at his home of an apparent heart attack.