Formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1979, by singer Colin Hay and guitarist Ron Strykert, initially as an acoustic duo. With the later addition of Greg Ham, 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 Records executive Peter Karpin. In 1981, the first single, 'Who Can It Be Now"', was an enormous Australian hit, soon followed by 'Down Under' and Business As Usual. The band's success surprised and infuriated home critics, who had written them off as derivative and insipid. Blessed with three songwriters and supported by videos which showcased the band's sense of humour, and with added exposure 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'. Business As Usual also climbed to the top of the US album charts the same year, spending a remarkable 15 weeks in the peak position. The band also won the 1982 Best New Artist Grammy.
Success followed 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 band. The follow-up Cargo, sold well in the US, 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 band's 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 recorded a solo album in 1987, Looking For Jack, which reached the lower end of the US album chart. Wayfaring Sons, released on MCA in 1990 and credited to the Colin Hay Band, used Celtic music as its base. Hay continued to release albums in the 90s, but in 1996 reunited with Ham under the Men At Work banner. The new line-up released a live album recorded during a sold-out Brazilian tour.
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