Greg Ham, a flautist who from 1979 to 1986 belonged to the Australian group Men at Work, was found dead at his Melbourne home Thursday. He was 58.
"Police have established a crime scene, and the local crime investigation unit are attempting to determine cause of death," a spokeswoman for the police told the Herald-Sun after two friends found Ham's body when they went looking for him after not being able to get in contact with him for the past week.
"There are a number of unexplained aspects to it which has caused our attendance here today,” said Det Sen Sgt Shane O'Connell of the death, “and we're assisting the local detectives to determine what has occurred." Ham was reportedly home alone.
"He was a lovely human being, never judgmental about anyone, " Ham's neighbour, John Nassar, told the Sydney Morning Herald. "He was a very friendly human being."
Men at Work – for which Ham also played sax and keyboard – scored such hits as "Who Can It Be Now", “Overkill” and "Down Under", which was a worldwide hit. "We played in a band and conquered the world together,” former Men At Work frontman Colin Hay told ABC Local Radio Melbourne. “I love him very much. He's a beautiful man.”
Last October, the group lost a protracted copyright suit that claimed their flute riff for "Down Under" came from the 75-year-old Australian nursery rhyme, "Kookaburra”. A judge ruled that Larrikin Music Publishing, which owns the rights to the nursery rhyme, should be paid five per cent of both past and future royalties of "Downunder". While Hay and Men at Work guitarist Ron Strykert are credited with writing the track, it was Ham who came up with the flute riff.
“I think it had a big impact on him,” said Hay, who is currently on tour in the US. “He was angry about it, embarrassed about it. He thought that’s what really people would remember him for most. But I don’t think that’s the case.”
Ham joined Men at Work in 1979. He left the group in 1985 and began working as a music teacher. “He was a great teacher, with a golden heart, and [the students] loved him,” said Hay, 58.
In 1986, he appeared in the ABC TV comedy series, While You're Down There. In 1996, he re-joined Men At Work when they reformed for a tour of the US.
Ham, who lived alone in his North Carlton home, is survived by two children. "I'm thinking about his family,” said Hay, “and hoping they are receiving the love and support they need and deserve.”