Men at Work were 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 and sold over 30 million albums worldwide. The band’s sound is distinguished by its use of woodwind and brass instruments
[Colin] Hay met the guitarist Ron Strykert in 1978 and they started playing together and composing songs which would come the basis for their upcoming band, the MEN AT WORK.
MEN AT WORK had Hay on lead vocals and guitar, Strykert on guitar, Jerry Speiser on drums, John Rees on bass and the multi-instrumentist Greg Ham on keyboards, sax, flutes and harmonica.
By the time of 1980 they were playing in some hotels and small venues in Melbourne when recorded and released their first independent single, “Keypunch Operator”, which had as b-side an earlier version of “Down Under”.
Little later, they were hired by the CBS Records Peter McIan, to record their first album. “Business as Usual” was released later 1981 in Australia, and in 1982 at America, topping the US charts for 16 consecutive weeks, only striked out by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. The album went multi-platinum selling more than 10 million copies.
The first single of the debut album was “Who Can It Be Now?”, which was also #1 hit just as the subsequent single, “Down Under”. The third single released was “Be Good Johnny”, which reached #3 position on US Charts. MEN AT WORK toured America to promote the album, being the opening act for Fleetwood Mac.
Later 1982 the band got back in studio for the recording of their second album, “Cargo”, released in 1983 at America, also was a #1. At this time they were receiving a Grammy as Best New Artist. “Cargo” most expressive singles were “Overkill”, “It’s a Mistake” and “Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive”.
The release of the second album was followed by an world tour, including a presentation on the US Music Festival ’83, at the same stage of bands like The Clash and Stray Cats transmitted live wordwidely. One of this tour’s shows, at Berkeley, California, was released in 1984 as homevideo named “Live in San Francisco… or Was It Berkeley?”.
In 1984 they gave a break, and members Speiser and Rees were fired from the band. Later this year, the remaining members (Hay, Strykert and Ham), joined with studio musicians for the recording of MEN AT WORK’s third album, “Two Hearts”, released in 1985. They had no longer McIan as producer, but were still under CBS label. The album went gold and got into the Top 50, and just a single got some success, “Everything I Need”, reached the Top 30.
Ron Strykert left the band during the recording of the album. Colin Hay, Greg Ham and the other musicians did a tour to promote the album and after that the band was over.
From Colin Hay’s website
- Jeremy Alsop – bass, backing vocals (1985-1986)
- Colin Bayley – guitar, backing vocals (1985-1986)
- James Black – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1985-1986)
- Tony Floyd – drums (1997-2000)
- Rick Grossman – bass, backing vocals (1998-1999)
- Stephen Hadley – bass, backing vocals (1996-1997, 1999)
- Greg Ham – keyboards, vocals, saxophone, harmonica, flute (1979–1985, 1996–2000)
- Colin Hay – vocals, guitar (1978–1986, 1996–2000)
- Simon Hosford – guitar, backing vocals (1996-2000)
- John Rees – bass, backing vocals (1979–1984)
- Greg Sneddon – keyboard (1979)
- Jerry Speiser – drums, percussion, backing vocals (1979-1984)
- Ron Strykert – guitar, bass, vocals (1978–1985)
- Chad Wackerman – drums, backing vocals (1985-1986)
- John Watson – drums (1996-1997)
- Paul Williamson – saxophone, keyboards, backing vocals (1985-1986)
- Business as Usual – 1981
- Cargo – 1983
- Two Hearts – 1985
- Brazil – 1998
- The Works – 1987
- Puttin’ in Overtime – 1995
- Contraband: The Best of Men at Work – 1996
- Simply The Best – 1998
- Definitive Collection – 2000
- Super Hits – 2000
- Essential Men at Work – 2003