After founding Larrikin Records in 1974 and having a long association with a musical ensemble called the Larrikins, folklorist and musician Warren Fahey has been hard and unfairly hit by the imbroglio surrounding the Men At Work hit ‘Down Under’.
Fahey sold Larrikin Records to Music Sales Corporation in 1998. He had nothing to do with the infamous lawsuit brought in 2008 by Larrikin Music Publishing, a revamped version of this company, against members of Men At Work and their label EMI.
The lawsuit, of course, was brought on the basis that ‘Down Under’ contained a flute riff based on ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’, the well-known Australian children’s song. Since Larrikin Music Publishing owned the copyright for this song, it claimed that it was entitled to a massive 60% of ‘Down Under”s royalties.
The claim was viewed both by the general public and Fahey himself as grasping and unfair. Though he urged Larrikin Music Publishing to give up its suit, however, Fahey still receives hate mail from Men At Work fans on the mistaken assumption that he was involved.
I am sorry to say that I unintentionally made a reference to the ‘Down Under’ case in Larrikins: A History which could be taken to suggest that Fahey was involved in the suit against Men at Work.
In my conclusion, I noted that Fahey founded Larrikin Records in the 1970s. I then went on in the same breath to mention the lawsuit in a way that – I see now – potentially intimates that Fahey was involved.
I am mortified that my careless summary of the case might contribute to the flak Fahey has received. I have sent him a profuse apology which he has accepted ‘in the spirit of larrikinism’ – a very decent and generous gesture, and indicative of the man.
Many thanks – and apologies again, Warren Fahey.