41 years ago, a band had success in the US, UK and Australia: it wasn't AC/DC and this is their sad story – Stories

Few songs have, throughout the history of music, conveyed such a good vibe “Down”one of the singles from the first album Men at work, “business as usual”.(1981) It is certainly one of the most representative songs of Australia as a country. The band would release only two more albums before parting ways with its singer, Colin HiHe started his solo career, but returned to the song several times. But what makes this topic so special?

In addition to its happy tune and catchy chorus making it an instant hit, its lyrics continue to prove just how amazing that place “out there” is, Australian soil. It should be noted that in the years following its release, this song would have the peculiarity of filling the charts in its country of origin, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States, which is practically unusual in music history. In fact, on January 29, 1983, the song managed to reach the top of the charts in the two aforementioned countries at the same time the album did the same. No one has done that since Rod Stewart in 1971.

However, one of the first factors that influenced the success of this case was the sporting victory.

In 1983 Australia won the race America's Cup, a regatta contest in which the United States has never lost. At that time, the Prime Minister of Australia was, Bob HawkOverwhelmed with happiness, she decided to put the entire country on vacation, and in addition, she said that any boss who fires an employee for being fired is “Killjoy“There is no doubt that it was a very happy time, and at the same time, the song was played in the background of the celebrations, to leave people with those wonderful memories. In this way, a year after its release, the song ended up becoming the unofficial anthem of Australia.

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Another more important factor was the explosion of her video on MTV. At the time, the TV channel had only been on the air for a year and did not have a large repertoire of videos to choose from, as it was just getting started. Men at Work had no idea about that channel either, but he saw that British and Australian bands had been promoting themselves there for a while. What have you done? Try to do something that matches your personality, on a low budget, with the help of some of your friends and your own improvised ideas. Out of curiosity, the “six-foot-tall” man who serves the hero of the song a veggie sandwich was the drummer in the band, Jerry Spizer Which, of course, he wasn't very tall, so he had to find something to stand on to make himself look bigger. It was precisely that carefree personality that made the video a real success.

However, the first version of the theme did not aim very high. An initial demo, with only 300 copies, was released as the B-side of the song. “keyhole worker”This is a topic that is more than forgotten at this stage. With the help of a good producer, the band was able to take their music to another level and turn it into an anthem, which Colin Hay recorded again on two other occasions throughout his career.

Despite the success, this is still a sad story

However, all great stories have a dark undertone, and the story of “Down Under” came in 2009, when a label tried to sue the band for claiming that a children’s song was called “Down Under.” “Kokaburra”, which they had the rights to, was stolen when making the song “Down Under.” Element of contention? The flute that plays in the song. The children's song was written by the teacher in 1932 Marion SinclairHowever, the company, while owning the operating rights, tried to obtain 60% of the rights to the song. In the end, the ruling was that the company would take 5% of those rights, which would be retroactive to 2002. In short, the Men at Work members had to pay $100,000 on top of the $4.5 million they spent defending themselves.

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I'll go to my grave knowing that “Down Under” is the original song. For more than 20 years, no one has noticed any reference to a kookaburra. Marion Sinclair never made any claim or indicated that we appropriated any part of her song, and she was still alive when we published it. She didn't seem to see the resemblance either.Colin said after the trial.

Greg HammWhoever contributed to playing the flute was destroyed by this ruling. “This is how the song will be remembered and I hate it. I'm so disappointed that this is how I'll be remembered, for imitating something.”The musician's health began to deteriorate from that moment, until he died in 2012 at the age of 58. Colin Hay has stated, on several occasions, that the stress and trauma of the trial were the elements that ultimately destroyed him. His life.

Whatever the case, even today, “Down Under” remains one of the most iconic songs to come to us from Australia and one to which its inhabitants feel most connected. This is something no judge can take away from them.

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