Music is a precious thing, and it’s always sad when even a little bit of it dies. Thus, this morning begins on a down note with the news that Greg Ham, multi-instrumentalist for Men at Work, is dead at the age of 58. Casual music fans will remember him as the author of the catchy flute riff in “Land Down Under,” the band’s smash 1982 hit (which topped the charts in the US, UK, Australia and Canada), as well as the saxophone in their breakthrough, “Who Can It Be Now” (also a #1 hit). When he wasn’t playing the woodwinds, he was the guy on keys, so he was, if you’ll pardon the pun, instrumental in the band’s signature sound.
Ham had apparently been troubled recently in the wake of a court ruling that portions of that famous flute line infringed upon another song, and Ham reportedly felt that his legacy had been tainted. It’s hard to think about a man whose music made others happy dying in despair…
S&R today pays its respects to Greg Norman Ham. Thanks for the memories.
First, perhaps his most famous moment with the band.
Here he is with one of the four or five most recognizable sax riffs in rock history.
And one more….
Greg Ham was one of those musicians who we all knew, even if we didn’t know his name (because who pays attention to the instrumentalist?) When we listen to these tunes now, nearly 30 years on, it’s hard not to be struck by the role that Ham played in helping define the sound of the decade.