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Eighties pop musician found dead at home

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The pop music band Men at Work churned out a string of hits in the Eighties such "Land Down Under" and "It's A Mistake," with their sunny, Australian-inflected songs. A distinctive part of their sound came from flute player Greg Ham, who tragically has been discovered dead at his Melbourne home. Ham was only 58 years old.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Ham's neighbors said that he lived alone. Two friends became concerned when they had not heard from him in some time. His friends found his body. Police have not released any details about his cause of death.

"There are a number of unexplained aspects to it which has caused our attendance here today, and we're assisting the local detectives to determine what has occurred," Detective Senior Sergeant Shane O'Connell told reporters.

Men at Work singer Colin Hay issued a statement expressing a deep love for his longtime friend, whom he met in 1972 when they were seniors in high school. Hay shared his numerous experiences with Ham, from appearing on "Saturday Night Live," to flying through dust storms over the Grand Canyon, to getting lost in the rural Australian countryside.

"We played in a band and conquered the world together," Hay said. "I love him very much. He's a beautiful man. The saxophone solo on 'Who Can It Be Now' was the rehearsal take. We kept it that was the one. He's here forever."

Men at Work came under fire for their "Down Under," all about the joys of Australia and being Australian. The band was accused of stealing the catchy riff from the children's campfire song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." The publisher of "Kookaburra" sued the group and in 2010 the judge ruled the band had copied the melody. The group was ordered to hand over a portion of its royalties.

Ham later said the controversy had left him devastated, feeling it would tarnish his legacy.

"It has destroyed so much of my song," he told newspaper reporters. "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."

Neighbor John Nassar praised Ham, whom he had known for about 30 years.

"He was a lovely human being, never judgmental about anyone," Nassar told reporters. "He was a very friendly human being."

Ham also played the saxophone and keyboards, and more recently worked as a guitar teacher.

The band's album, "Business As Usual," topped the Australian, American and British charts in early 1983. The song remains an unofficial anthem for Australia and was ranked fourth in a 2001 music industry survey of the best Australian songs.

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