Colin Hay

Colin James Hay (born 29 June 1953) is a Scottish–Australian musician, singer, songwriter, and actor. He came to prominence as the lead vocalist of the band Men at Work and later also as a solo artist. Hay's music has been frequently used by actor and director Zach Braff in his work, which helped a career rebirth in the mid-aughts.[1]

Colin Hay
Hay in concert, 2018
Background information
Birth nameColin James Hay
Born (1953-06-29) 29 June 1953
Saltcoats, Scotland
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • keyboards
  • drums
  • banjo
  • lap steel
Years active1978–present
Associated acts

Early life

Hay was born in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, Scotland and immigrated to Australia with his family at age 14 in 1967.[2]


Men at Work

In 1978, Hay met Ron Strykert and the men began playing acoustic music as a duo. Hay and Strykert formed the core of the band Men at Work, with Hay on vocals, guitar and keyboards, and Strykert on guitar, vocals and bass guitar. Hay and Strykert added Jerry Speiser (drums), John Rees (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Greg Ham (flute, saxophone, keyboards, vocals).[3] The group released their debut album Business as Usual in 1981.

The success of Men at Work, and of their albums Business as Usual and Cargo, prompted Hay to relocate to Los Angeles in 1989.[4] He settled in the Topanga region of the city, and has resided in the USA since; in January 2016, he became a U.S. citizen.[5]

Hay joined as guest vocalist with The Incredible Penguins in 1985 for a cover of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)", a charity project for research on little penguins, which peaked at No. 10 on the Australian Kent Music Report in December.[6][7]

Later career

Following the breakup of Men at Work in 1985, Hay released several major label solo albums, including Looking for Jack (Columbia) and Wayfaring Sons (MCA), to differing commercial success. In 2011, Hay commented on his early solo career, stating, "After Men at Work, for the better part of a decade, I was stumbling around being unfocused. It was pre-internet; I really had to try to find my audiences by going out on tour. Men at Work really didn't build a foundational audience. We came in as a pop band with enormous radio success; once that goes away and the band breaks up the audience tends to go away with it. You're left with what you want to make of it. When you start out doing those tours, you start again [and] you tend not to attract a very big number of people. I'd play to a hundred people or sometimes less."[8]

In 2004 he contributed to the Garden State soundtrack with his solo song "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You".

In addition to recording, Hay also established his own recording label, Lazy Eye Records,[9] somewhat incorrectly named for his own divergent ocular condition (exotropia, or divergent strabismus; the usage of lazy eye generally refers to Amblyopia). He has made appearances in cult movies such as Cosi and in television shows such as The Larry Sanders Show, JAG, The Mick Molloy Show, A Million Little Things, and Scrubs. Scrubs, along with episodes of ABC's What About Brian, NBC's The Black Donnellys, CBS's Cane, and the BBC hospital drama Casualty, have included performances of some of his previous songs; in Scrubs he performs an acoustic version of the Men at Work hit "Overkill".

In December 2005, Hay and Heather Mills released "My Brilliant Feat" as a charity single as a tribute to football player George Best, who died on 25 November of that year. Proceeds were forwarded to the Donor Family Network, supporting organ donor families and promoting organ and tissue donation. The single is available on iTunes with a bonus music-video tribute to Best.[10][11]

In 2006 Hay provided his voice for one of the characters in the animated movie The Wild. He has also been a member of Ringo Starr's eighth, tenth and thirteenth All-Starr Bands. He continues to perform regularly, including playing some folk venues. On 13 February 2009, former Men at Work band member Ron Strykert was arrested for allegedly making death threats against Hay.[12][13]

Hay released his 10th album, "American Sunshine", on 18 August 2009 on Compass Records.

In 2009, Hay's former group, Men at Work, was named in a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement by Larrikin Music, which owns the rights to the "Kookaburra" song. Larrikin Music claimed that part of a flute riff from the band's 1981 single "Down Under" was copied from "Kookaburra" originally written by a music teacher, Marion Sinclair, who died in 1988. In February 2010, a court ruled in favour of Larrikin Music. Although the petition from Larrikin Music requested 40% to 60% of royalties dating back to 1981 and future royalties, in July 2010 a judge awarded the plaintiff only 5% of royalties dating back to 2002 and the same amount of future royalties.[14]

In May 2009, Hay performed at the Artist for the Arts Foundation benefit at Barnum Hall, Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, California. Performing alongside Curt Smith of Tears for Fears, Fee Waybill (Tubes) and Venice and over 70 members of the Santa Monica High School Orchestra and Girls Choir, the benefit helped to provide funds for the continuation of music education in public schools. In August 2010, Hay performed in Missoula, Montana with a Los Angeles Roots rock band named Patrolled By Radar.[15]

In December 2013, Hay announced on his website that he was done touring "for the time being" and would spend 2014 writing and recording.[16]

In 2015 he joined the Last Summer on Earth tour with Violent Femmes and Barenaked Ladies.

On 4 August 2015, Colin Hay: Waiting for my Real Life, a documentary film about the singer, debuted at the Melbourne International Film Festival[17]

Hay made an appearance on BNL Rocks Red Rocks by Barenaked Ladies, a live album recorded on the Last Summer on Earth 2015 tour. [18]

On 27 January 2017, he released the first single "A Thousand Million Reasons" from his new album, Fierce Mercy, released 3 March 2017. He toured in support of the album throughout the US, UK and Australia. Also in 2017, Hay released his first audio book, Aesop's Fables with Colin Hay, published by Devault-Graves Digital Editions, for which he narrated 24 of Aesop's Fables written by author Tom Graves.

Solo discography

Studio albums


Year Single Album
1986 "Hold Me" Looking for Jack
1987 "Looking for Jack"
"Can I Hold You?"
1987 "Into My Life" Wayfaring Sons
1998 "Don't Believe You Anymore" Transcendental Highway
1999 "Goodbye My Red Rose"
2012 "Down Under 2012" Non-album single
As featured artist
Year Single Album
2017 "Now The Time Has Come"[19]
(Ringo Starr, Richard Page, Colin Hay, Billy Valentine, Wesley Stromberg, Christian Collins, Kirsten Collins, Maddi Jane, Casey McPherson & James Maslow)
Non-album single

With Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band


After performing in Men at Work, Hay performed in a number of films and TV shows, usually in small roles.

  • The Resident - (2018) S2E4 as musician Rhys Barrett (Performing "You Saved Me From Myself")
  • FishCenter Live (2017) as self[20]
  • Jack Irish – Bad Debts (2012) as Tony Baker
  • The Uninvited (2008) as Nick
  • The Wild (2006) as Fergus Flamingo (voice)
  • Scrubs (TV series) (2002, 2007, 2009)
    • Episode – "My Last Day" as Troubador (Performing "Beautiful World")
    • Episode – "My Overkill" as Troubador (Performing "Overkill")
    • Episode – "My Hard Labor" as Troubador (Performing "Down Under")
    • Episode – "My Finale" as Troubador (Cameo)
  • The Country Bears (2002) (singing voice – uncredited)
  • The Mick Molloy Show (TV series)
    • Episode No. 1.4 (1999) as Gay Builder
    • Episode No. 1.2 (1999) as Artist
  • The Craic (1999) as Barry
  • Heaven's Burning (1997) as Jonah
  • JAG: Judge Advocate General (TV series)
    • Episode – "Trinity" (1997) as Miles
  • Cosi (1996) as Zac
  • Blue Heelers (TV series)
    • Episode – "Shadow Man" (1995) as Brad Fielding
    • Episode – "Theft" (1994) as George Patterson
  • Raw Silk (TV movie) (1988) as Parker
  • Wills & Burke (1985) as Publican

Personal life

Hay is married to singer Cecilia Noël,[21] who often provides backup vocals at his shows. Noël has also helped with production on Hay's solo albums. Hay said of his album, "Are You Lookin' At Me?" that:

She was really crucial. She was a really great sounding board for me. She's a really good producer in the sense that she's very musical and has a great sense of song structure and so forth. So she was great to bounce ideas off. And she sang on nearly all the songs. So she was really a great part of this record.[22]

Hay has a brother who is a high school math teacher. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand and coaches a soccer team there.

Hay and Noël live in Topanga Canyon in the Los Angeles, California area.[23]


  1. Stewart, Allison (28 April 2011). "Colin Hay a working man from way back". Chicago Tribune.
  2. "Colin Hay". Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  3. Entries at Australian Rock Database:
    • Colin Hay/Colin Hay Band: Holmgren, Magnus; Warnqvist, Stefan. "Colin Hay". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
    • Men at Work (1979–86, 1995-present): Holmgren, Magnus; Warnqvist, Stefan. "Men at Work". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  4. "Colin Hay still a man at work". Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  5. "Crystal Ballroom". Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  6. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. NOTE: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  7. Spencer, Chris; Nowara, Zbig; McHenry, Paul (2002) [1987]. "Incredible Penguins". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Notes by Ed Nimmervoll. Noble Park, Vic.: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2010. Note: [on-line] version established at White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd in 2007 and was expanded from the 2002 edition.
  8. "Colin Hay is still at work". National Features. 18 May 2011.
  9. Sue Kiesewetter. "Singer Colin Hay comes to Fairfield Community Arts Center April 24 - Butler County News at". Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
  10. "BBC Breakfast — December's Information". BBC News. 20 December 2005. Retrieved 14 June 2009.
  11. Nix, David. "Donor Family Network". Heather Mills. Retrieved 14 June 2009.
  12. "Men at Work star arrested for threats". Digital Spy. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
  13. "Men at Work guitarist threatened to kill singer, police say". LA Times. 17 February 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  14. "Kookaburra gets last laugh in Men at Work case".
  15. "Colin Hay with Patrolled by Radar". Missoula Independent. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2011. when Colin Hay—formerly of the group Men at Work—plays the Wilma Theatre with Patrolled by Radar
  16. "Colin Hay » A message from Colin". Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 August 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ""BNL Rocks Red Rocks" set for release | Get Barenaked!". Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  19. "Ringo Starr's Peace Song 'Now the Time Has Come' Debuts as Free Download". 19 January 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  20. Hay, Colin (25 February 2017). "Colin appears on FishCenter". Colin Hay. Tumblr. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  21. "'Man At Work' to play Towne Crier", SF Gate, 5:00 pm, Thursday, 8 April 2004.
  22. "Work keeps coming in for Colin Hay, SF Gate, 5:00 pm, Thursday, July 5, 2007.
  23. Chris Johnston, "Lunch with Colin Hay", The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 January 2013.
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