Greg Ham was found dead yesterday, he was 58 years old.
“It's been a band that we never really planned,” Greg Ham said about Men At Work at the time of the band's 2000 Australian reunion tour.
For a band that was “never planned”, the iconic Australian band went on to be one of the most successful musical exports of this country.
Multi-instrumentalist Ham joined the band late in 1979. The band's 1981 Business As Usual album was number one in five countries, going six-times platinum in the United States.
And besides Down Under, the song they are most remembered for, Ham and the band experienced a string of international hits that also included Overkill and It's A Mistake.
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Men At Work officially broken up in 1986 but first reformed in 1996. At the time Ham remembered, “It's always been a band that's just kind of happened. We had no vision at all. We all liked reggae so there was a bit of a reggae flavour though I would never call it a reggae band. We all like the Police, so maybe the chorusing on the guitars sort of reflects some of that interest.”
Ham and frontman Colin Hay had initially pulled together a new version of Men At Work in 1996 when lucrative offers to perform started coming in from Brazil. Ham recalled, “It was a shock [to discover] how popular we were there [in Brazil]. It was literally like going back to '86 or earlier.”
In 1998 they toured the US twice, at the beginning and end of the year. In 1999, they did 12 shows in Japan, followed by concerts in Melbourne and Adelaide.
In addition to the flute, Ham played saxophone and various keyboards, and remained an integral part of the core band during its occasional reunions.
As well as performing with the band and in Melbourne-based combo The Nudist Funk Orchestra, Ham did a bit of acting, becoming a regular cast member of the 1986 TV comedy series, While You're Down There. He also taught guitar at a local primary school and assessed music students for the Victorian Certificate Of Education.
In an emotional interview with ABC radio, Haye said, "We were here almost 30 years ago to the day. We did it many times and we are still doing it. We always loved to play together."
He added, "He was dearly loved. He was a man with a golden heart. One of the great ones."
Ham was found dead at his Melbourne home yesterday.