Colin Hay to re-release Down Under without the flute riff

Colin Hay is to re-release the Men At Work song Down Under without its contentious flute riff.

The singer has recorded three versions of the iconic Australian song, which will be available on iTunes next Friday.

First released in 1982, Down Under became an instant anthem after topping charts in Australia, the US , Britain and Canada.

In 2009 a multi-million dollar legal challenge claimed the song’s flute motif plagiarised the folk tune Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

A court ruled that five per cent of the recording’s royalties be awarded to Australian publisher Larrikin Music, which holds the copyright to the old nursery rhyme.

Down Under is now being resurrected by Telstra in a television advertising campaign for the London Olympic Games and as a way for Hay to prove the song’s worth without its expensive flute part.

Greg Ham

“I just did it because I could,” he said.

“I wanted to put it out there and say: ‘here it is without the infringing flute line and it doesn’t make any difference’. It’s still the song.”

Hay, who says the court case cost “millions”, is releasing Down Under as a solo project.

He has lost contact with co-writer Ron Strykert while Greg Ham, who played the flute, died in April.

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