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Greg Ham: No Foul Play in Death of Men at Work Instrumentalist
Australian police have ruled out foul play in the death of Men At Work's Greg Ham, whose body was found Thursday at his Melbourne home. He was 58.
Ham's body was discovered by friends who checked in on him. The state of Victoria's Homicide Squad subsequently started an investigation into the circumstances of his death. A post-mortem examination was completed on Friday afternoon. Although the results have yet to be published, authorities have now determined his death was non-suspicious.
Ham played flute, saxophone and keyboards in the iconic Australian group, which had a global smash in the early '80s with "Down Under." He was a constant, energetic presence for the group, and perhaps its most recognizable member aside from frontman Colin Hay
Ham joined Men At Work in 1979 as a replacement for Greg Sneddon. The group went on to become members of an elite circle in 1982 they secured simultaneous No. 1 singles and albums in the U.S. and U.K. with "Down Under" and "Business As Usual," respectively.
"Down Under" is a favorite with Australians everywhere, and is regarded in these parts as an "unofficial" national anthem, particularly during sporting occasions. The song is synonymous with the country's successful bid to win the America's Cup yacht race in 1983, and the band reunited to perform their big hit during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
"Down Under" was the target of a high-profile copyright battle, which saw the band accused of lifting the song's flute refrain from a children's campfire anthem, "Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree." In 2010, the Australian Federal Court ordered Men At Work to pay just 5% of royalties earned from the song since 2002 and from future earnings.
"It has destroyed so much of my song," Ham told reporters at the time of the court case Fairfax at the time. "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."
Former bandmate Hay today said Ham was "clearly loved" and was "a man with a golden heart," but he also hinted that Ham may have fallen on hard times.
"I don't really feel particularly comfortable talking about those things," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "We've all had demons that we've tried to exorcise over the years and Greg was like all of us," Hay said from the U.S., where he's touring.
"The last time I saw him was a few months ago and ... it's a long-term thing. There's always a long-term thing for all of us, the issue of addiction I think."
In the first half of the '80s, Men At Work created a bank of international hits which included "Who Can it Be Now," "Overkill" "It's a Mistake" and "Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive."