Men At Work musician farewelled at funeral

Men at Work's Greg Ham was a selfless, compassionate, funny man with a broad wit and uncanny knack for music, his funeral has heard.

Ham, who died at his Carlton home aged 58 on April 19, was eulogised by friends, family and former bandmates at a funeral in a packed Fitzroy Town Hall today.

Fittingly, the service was filled with music.

Men at Work bandmate Colin Hay, despite being on tour in the US, had penned a song specially for Ham, a clip of which was screened at the service.

"I'm blue for you... I'm blue for you... I don't know what to do," Hay's powerful voice mourned as he strummed his acoustic guitar.

Renowned saxophonist Wilbur Wilde, of Hey Hey it's Saturday fame, played a haunting rendition of Massenet's melancholic piece Meditation on the stage beside Ham's coffin.

Ham's ex-wife, Linda "Toots" Wostry, said her partner of 19 years - and long-time friend - had been loyal, loving, and generous to a fault, and had devoted himself to the couple's children, Max and Camille.

She said Ham struggled with depression and anxiety following a court's finding in 2010 that his signature flute riff in the Men at Work smash hit Down Under had been copied from the children's song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

The decision, along with the cases's associated costs, took their toll on his health, she said.

"I personally couldn't fathom how playing a fragment of a melody in a jazz context, known as 'quoting', is considered the height of musical wit, while in a rock context, it becomes plagiarism," she said.

"Perhaps it has something to do with perceiving revenue to be had."

Despite the extraordinary international success of Men at Work, Ham remained grounded and loyal, and never let success go to his head, she said.

Despite her immense sorrow at his loss, Wostry said Ham's death meant he could now rest, and no longer had to wrestle with his demons.

"I believe he's at peace now," she said.

Long-time friend Linda Carroll said Ham could come across as eccentric through his quirky sense of humour, but was at heart a kind, loving, clever man who happened to possess enormous talent.

Ms Carroll, who worked alongside Ham with the Victorian youth music foundation The Push, said with a trembling voice that he had "a heart of gold... he was simply one in a million".

Former Miss Dorothy and His Fools in Love bandmate Greg Scealy wept as he lauded Ham's self-deprecating humour, tireless devotion to young aspiring musicians, and his humility.

"He wasn't like a pop star who lived in the past, he was just a musician who lived in the now and whose talent had brought him success and he was realistic about that," Mr Scealy said.

Long-time friend Kelvin McQueen read a poignant poem which praised Ham's character and told how his musical prowess had touched millions of lives.

"The music you played has stayed deep in our psyche, deep in our brain, ever to remain," he said.

A brass quartet played merry jazz as Ham's coffin was carried from the hall at the end of the service.

A dove was released into the sky from the hall's steps, and hundreds formed a guard of honour along Napier Street as Ham's coffin was driven to the Melbourne General Cemetery for a private burial.

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 29 Aug 2014 14:06:43 Processing Time: 346ms