Music HistoryOngoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: The sad Men at Work plagiarism case

One of the big hits of the early 80s was Men at Work’s “Down Under.” What most people don’t know that its wrapped in tragedy.

The son is about a young Australian dude who is traveling the world and has to explain how things are different down under. As part of that theme, bandmember Greg Ham plays a riff on a flute from an old children’s song called “Kookabura Sits in the Old Gum Tree” written in 1932 and is a huge part of Australian culture.

Twenty-eight years after “Down Under” was released, the band was sued by the holders of the publishing rights. This went on for years with the band losing in 2011 based on some dubious evidence.

The stress of the case is blamed for sending Greg Ham into depression resulting in him getting hooked on heroin. He died in 2012 of a heart attack, a heroin overdose, or both.

Monday’s post was about the white lighter superstition. And don’t forget to check out my podcast The Ongoing History of New Music where you listen on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogleStitcher, or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38300 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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