Vale Greg Ham…
… the flautist in Men At Work whose flute riff was added to their international hit single Down Under, only to be found to be in breach of copyright a quarter century or so later for sharing 11 notes with an older song, was found dead at his home in North Carlton, Melbourne, yesterday. It’s clear that he felt pretty bad about the result of the court case, saying that he’d be remembered for being the guy who ripped off a song, and it’s been suggested that he been hitting both the bottle and the needle since.
”I’m terribly disappointed that that’s the way I’m going to be remembered – for copying something.”
Whether that has anything to do with his death we can’t know yet, but in any case I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d beg to differ. He’ll be remembered as a guy who helped make this most memorable song an iconic sound that will be forever associated with Australia, and as someone who died too young.
I’m also sure I’m not the only one hoping, should it turn out that Greg Ham did turn to drugs or alcohol as a result of the case and their use were involved in his death, that some copyright lawyers and holders have a really shitty night’s sleep. I won’t go so far as to blame them or suggest they’re responsible for how someone else reacts, but I always felt that the similarity of Down Under to Kookaburra was bullshit.