Men at Work's Greg Ham farewelled
The death of Men at Work's Greg Ham was described as ''a loss to the world'' during his funeral in Fitzroy today.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Fitzroy Town Hall to celebrate the life of the man described as an ''instinctive musician'', a ''gentle and encouraging father'' and a ''great teacher''.
The 58-year-old father died last week in his Carlton home, leaving behind son Max, 21, and Camille, 16.
Greg Ham (left) with Colin Hay.
The cause of death is not yet known and autopsy results are not expected for some time yet.
The multi-instrumentalist was an integral part of the local music scene for more than 30 years and the 300-odd mourners included prominent names from the Australian music industry; among them Jane Clifton, Red Symons, Billy Miller and Wilbur Wilde, who played in a sax quartet.
Fittingly, the service was filled with music.
Ham's former bandmate Colin Hay, who lives in the United States, was on tour and couldn't make it to the funeral, but sent a video message introducing a very personal song he had penned for the occasion.
"I'm blue for you ... I'm blue for you ... I don't know what to do," Hay's powerful voice rued 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 Med-itation on the stage beside Ham's coffin.
After a moving congregational rendition of the William Blake hymn Jerusalem, described by family friend and celebrant Nicholas Tolhurst as ''Greg's favourite shower song'', Ham's former partner of 19 years, Linda ''Toots'' Wostry, gave a moving eulogy.
The mother of Ham's two children said said her partner - and long-time friend - had been loyal, loving, and generous to a fault, and had devoted himself to 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 case'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.
She said she believed he was ''at peace now''.
Ham's close friend and business partner Linda Carroll, with whom Ham established the youth initiative The Push, described his work as a teacher and mentor as ''one in a million'', saying Ham's heart was ''truly in the right place''.
''Greg would always say that we were doing it for the kids,'' she told the congregation. ''He loved music and he was a great teacher - it came automatically to him.''
Tributes were also given by Ham's childhood friend Gareth Morse and former bandmate Greg Scealy, the frontman for Miss Dorothy and His Fools In Love, before Ham's coffin left the Town Hall to the strains of Sammy Davis Jnr's Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone.
Ham's coffin left the building while his son Max held a framed photo of the musician, and his daughter Camille released a single white dove. The hundreds of mourners formed a guard of honour along Napier Street in Fitzroy.
- with AAP