Men At Work: Biographie

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Men at work est un groupe de musique australien qui a connu le succès avec l’album « Business as usual » sorti en 1981 et leur titre « Down under » qui est à lui seul un hymne au pays d’Oz.

Membres du groupe :

Colin Hay: chant, guitare
Ron Strykert: guitare, chant
Jerry Speiser: batterie, chant
Greg Ham: saxo, chant, clavier,
John Rees: basse, chant


1981 Columbia – Sony Music Entertainement (Australia) Pty Ltd Producteur: Peter Mclan Titres

Who can it be now? (Colin Hay)
I can see it in your eyes (Colin Hay)
Down under (Colin Hay-Ron Strykert)
Underground (Colin Hay)
Helpless automation (Greg Ham)
People just love to play with words (Ron Strykert)
Be good Johnny (Colin Hay-Greg Ham)
Touching the untouchables (Ron Strykert-Colin Hay)
Catch a star (Colin Hay)
Down by the sea (Colin Hay-Ron Strykert-Greg Ham-Speiser)

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Men at Work was an Australian reggae-influenced rock band which achieved international success in the 1980s. They are the only Australian artists to reach the Number 1 position in album and singles charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom with Business as Usual and « Down Under » respectively.

The group won the 1983 Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Colin Hay (born 29 June 1953 in Saltcoats, Scotland) [2] emigrated to Australia in 1967 with his family. In 1978 he formed a duo with Ron Strykert (born 18 August 1957). The group expanded with the addition of drummer Jerry Speiser and keyboard player Greg Sneddon, although Sneddon soon left, to be replaced by multi-instrumentalist Greg Ham (born 27 September 1953). After a time, the band recruited bass guitarist John Rees and the group was complete.

The band played a regular residency at Melbourne’s Cricketers Arms Hotel and built a strong local following. In 1980 they financed a single (« Keypunch Operator’) backed by an early version of « Down Under ».

In 1981 Columbia Records signed Men at Work to a recording contract. Their first single « Who Can It Be Now? » reached Number 1 on the Australian chart in August 1981. A subsequent single (a re-worked version of « Down Under ») and their first album Business as Usual also went to Number 1. The album also debuted at Number 1 in New Zealand.

International success

Despite its strong Australian showing, and having an American producer (Peter McIan), Business As Usual was twice rejected by Columbia’s parent company in the United States. Thanks to the persistence of the band’s management, the album was eventually released in the USA and the UK six months after its Australian release. Men at Work toured the USA to promote the album, supporting the likes of Fleetwood Mac.

In October 1982 « Who Can It Be Now » hit Number 1 in the USA. Then, in November of that year, Business As Usual began a 12 week run at Number 1 on the US album chart. By January 1983 Men at Work had the top album and single in both the USA and the UK – a feat never achieved previously by an Australian act.
To culminate a meteoric rise, Men at Work won Australia’s first-ever Grammy Award, winning Best New Artist for 1983 ahead of Asia, Jennifer Holliday, Human League and Stray Cats.

« Down Under » received renewed attention when it was used as the unofficial anthem for Australia’s successful challenge for the 1983 America’s Cup.

The band returned to the studio and recorded their second album Cargo. The Australian market had been starved of new material for more than 12 months, and the new album went to Number 1. The international market, where Business As Usual was still riding high, kept the album at Number 3 on the Billboard chart. The album nevertheless produced four charting singles: « Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive », « High Wire », « It’s A Mistake » and « Overkill ».

In 1984 the band took a long break as members pursued other interests. At the end of that period, Jerry Speiser and John Rees were advised by management that they were no longer members of the band. The remaining members (Hay, Ham and Strykert) recorded a third album Two Hearts which peaked at Number 50 on the chart. One single « Everything I Need » reached the Top 30.

Throughout 1985 the remaining members left one by one. By the end of that year the band was defunct.

Later years

Men at Work had enjoyed strong fan support in South America during their heyday. Original members Hay and Ham reunited to tour that land in 1996, culminating in the Brazilian release of a live CD Brazil ’96 in 1997. The album was subsequently released worldwide in 1998 as Brazil with a bonus studio song « The Longest Night ».

Men at Work performed « Down Under » at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Hay maintains a successful solo career. Strykert lives in Montana, continues to play music and is bitter about Men at Work. Speiser, Ham and Rees still work in the music industry.

For updated information on the individual members of the band, see Where Are They Now – Men at Work

Original band members

Colin Hay – lead vocals and guitar (1979–1985), (1996–1998);
Ron Strykert – guitar, vocals (1979–1985);
Jerry Speiser – drums, vocals (1979–1984);
Greg Ham – saxophone, flute, keyboards, harmonica, vocals (1979–1985), (1996–1998);
John Rees – bass guitar, vocals (1979–1984)

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