Greg Ham, a flutist, saxophonist and keyboard player for the Grammy-winning Australian band Men at Work, was found dead in his Melbourne home on Thursday. He was 58.
According to BBC News, Greg, most known for his chirpy flute riff in the international hit Down Under, was found in his home in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton North when two concerned friends went to check on him after being unable to contact the musician for several days.
BBC added that Ham’s cause of death is still under investigation.
“There are a number of unexplained aspects to it which has caused our attendance here today, and we’re assisting the local detectives to determine what has occurred,” Detective Senior Sergeant Shane O’Connell told reporters. “Because of the early stages of our investigation, we’re not prepared to go into the exact details of what has occurred.”
Despite Men At Work’s international fame in the 1980s, Greg Ham lived with disappointment at the way his Down Under flute riff would be remembered.
In 2010 Australia’s Federal Court ruled band members partly copied the children’s folk tune Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, penned more than 75 years ago.
Ham later said the controversy had left him devastated, and he worried it would tarnish his legacy.
“It has destroyed so much of my song,” he told Melbourne’s The Age newspaper after the court ruling. “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.”
Ham left the band in 1985 and up until his death had been working as a music teacher.
Australian rock historian Glenn Baker praised Ham, adding that the musician was always “good company.”
“I remember him very, very clearly as an effusive, energetic, personable man, a fine musician and one of those Australian performers who took to the world stage alacrity and represented us incredibly well and seemed to have a very good time while doing so,” he said.
Ham is survived by two children.