Men At Work

Formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1979, by singer Colin Hay (b. 29 June 1953, Scotland—emigrated to Australia aged 14) and guitarist Ron Strykert (b. 18 August 1957, Australia), initially as an acoustic duo. With the later addition of Greg Ham (b. 27 September 1953, Australia), John Rees (bass) and Jerry Speiser (drums), Men At Work performed for two years in small, inner-suburban pubs before being discovered and signed by CBS executive Peter Karpin. In 1981, the first single, Who Can It Be Now?, was an enormous Australian hit, soon followed by Down Under and the album BUSINESS AS USUAL. The band's success surprised and infuriated home critics, who had written them off as derivative and insipid. However, blessed with three songwriters and supported by videos which showcased the band's sense of humour (and as a support act to Fleetwood Mac), Men At Work were able to achieve two US number 1 hits in 1982 with Who Can It Be Now? and Down Under and a US number 1 album that same year. Success followed again in the UK where Down Under reached number 1 in early 1983, accompanied by BUSINESS AS USUAL topping the charts. By now, Men At Work could comfortably claim to be the world's most successful Australian pop group. The follow-up album, CARGO, sold well in the USA, reaching number 3, and provided two Top 10 singles in Overkill and It's A Mistake. Despite the album reaching the Top 10 in the UK, single success there was harder to sustain, with three singles reaching Top 40 status only. The third album, TWO HEARTS, sold less well, although it did achieve gold status in the USA, peaking at number 50. The original personnel had by now disintegrated, leaving Hay as the sole surviving member. The break-up in 1985 followed arguments over management and writing, and each member followed his own path. Hay, after recording a solo album, LOOKING FOR JACK, recorded another, WAYFARING SONS, on MCA in 1990, as the Colin Hay Band, using Celtic music as its base.


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