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Colin Hay
Colin Hay.png
Hay in concert, 2018
Background information
Birth name Colin James Hay
Born 29 June 1953 (1953-06-29) (age 68)
Kilwinning, Scotland
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • keyboards
  • drums
  • banjo
  • lap steel
Years active 1978–present
  • CBS
  • MCA
  • Compass
Associated acts
  • Men at Work
  • Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band
  • Lazlo Bane

Colin James Hay (born 29 June 1953) is a Scottish-born Australian-American musician who emigrated to Australia in his youth. He is a singer, songwriter, and actor. He came to prominence as the lead vocalist of the band Men at Work and later as a solo artist. Hay's music has been used frequently by actor and director Zach Braff in his work, which helped a career rebirth in the mid-2000s. Hay has also been a member of Ringo Starr's Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.

Hay has made appearances in 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. 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".

Early life

Hay was born in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland and emigrated to Australia with his family at age 14 in 1967.


1978–1986: 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). 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. He settled in the Topanga region of the city and has resided in the United States since. In January 2016 he became a US citizen.

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.

1986–present: Solo career

Following the breakup of Men at Work in 1986, Hay released his debut single "Hold Me" in 1986. The song peaked at number 40 on the Kent Music Report. His debut studio album, Looking for Jack was released in February 1987 and peaked at number 58.

In the mid-1990s, Hay also established his own recording label, Lazy Eye Records, somewhat incorrectly named for his own divergent ocular condition (exotropia, or divergent strabismus; the usage of lazy eye generally refers to amblyopia).

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 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..

In 2006 Hay provided his voice for one of the characters in the animated movie The Wild.

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 of the Tubes, 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.

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.

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."

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

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.

On 27 January 2017, he released the first single, "A Thousand Million Reasons", from his album Fierce Mercy which was released on 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.

Personal life

Hay is married to singer Cecilia Noël, 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? "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. Hay and Noël live in Topanga Canyon in the Los Angeles, California area.

On 13 February 2009, former Men at Work band member Ron Strykert was arrested for allegedly making death threats against Hay.

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

Hay has a sister who is a financial planner and lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Colin became an American citizen in 2016. He also has a residence in St Kilda, Melbourne.

Solo discography

Studio albums

Title Details Peak chart positions
Looking for Jack
(as Colin James Hay)
  • Released: January 1987
  • Label: CBS (450355 1)
  • Format: LP, Cassette, CD
Wayfaring Sons
(as Colin Hay Band)
  • Released: April 1990
  • Label: MCA (256911-1)
  • Format: LP, Cassette, CD
Peaks & Valleys
  • Released: 1992
  • Label: EastWest (903176180-2)
  • Format: CD
  • Released: 1994
  • Label: Newmarket Music (NEW1063.2)
  • Format: CD
Transcendental Highway
  • Released: 1998
  • Label: Festival Records (D31831)
  • Format: CD
Going Somewhere
  • Released: April 2001
  • Label: Head Records (HEAD038)
  • Format: CD
Company of Strangers
  • Released: 2002
  • Label: Lazy Eye, Compass Records
  • Format: CD
Are You Lookin' at Me?
  • Released: 2007
  • Label: Lazy Eye, Compass Records (7 4453 2)
  • Format: CD
American Sunshine
  • Released: 2009
  • Label: Lazy Eye, Compass Records (7 4512 2)
  • Format: CD, DD
Gathering Mercury
  • Released: May 2011
  • Label: Lazy Eye, Compass Records (7 4551 2)
  • Format: CD, DD
Next Year People
  • Released: 2015
  • Label: Lazy Eye, Compass Records (7 4641 2)
  • Format: CD, DD, LP, streaming
Fierce Mercy
  • Released: 2017
  • Label: Lazy Eye, Compass Records (7 4680 2)
  • Format: CD, DD, LP, streaming
I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
  • Released: 2021
  • Label: Lazy Eye, Compass Records
  • Format: CD, DD, LP, streaming

Live albums

Title Details
Live at the Corner
  • Released: 2010
  • Label: Compass Records (7 4546 9)
  • Format: DVD

Compilation albums

Title Details
Man @ Work
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: Lazy Eye Records (7 4365 2)
  • Format: CD


As lead artist

Year Title Peak chart
1986 "Hold Me" 40 - Looking for Jack
1987 "Looking for Jack" - -
"Can I Hold You?" - -
1990 "Into My Life" 117 - Wayfaring Sons
"Wayfaring Sons" - -
"Storm in My Heart" - -
1995 "I Haven't Seen You in a Long Time" - 49 Topanga
1997 "Don't Believe You Anymore" - - Transcendental Highway
1998 "My Brilliant Feat" - -
"If I Go" - -
1999 "Goodbye My Red Rose" - -
2012 "Down Under 2012" - - Non-album single
2017 "A Thousand Million Reasons" - - Fierce Mercy
2018 "You Saved Me from Myself" - - The Resident: Season 2 (soundtrack)
2020 "Now and the Evermore" - - Non-album single

As featured artist

Year Title
1997 "Overkill"
(Lazlo Bane)
2016 "Un Poquito de Amor Everyday (Everybody Needs Some Love Today)"
(San Miguel featuring Colin Hay)
2017 "Now The Time Has Come"
(Ringo Starr, Richard Page, Colin Hay, Billy Valentine, Wesley Stromberg, Christian Collins, Kirsten Collins, Maddi Jane, Casey McPherson & James Maslow)

With Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band

  • Tour 2003 (2004)
  • Live at the Greek Theatre 2008 (2010)


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
  • 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

Awards and nominations

APRA Awards

The APRA Awards are presented annually from 1982 by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), "honouring composers and songwriters".

Year Nominated work Award Result
2020 Colin Hay Distinguished Services Award awarded

Countdown Australian Music Awards

Countdown was an Australian pop music TV series on national broadcaster ABC-TV from 1974 to 1987, it presented music awards from 1979 to 1987, initially in conjunction with magazine TV Week. The TV Week / Countdown Awards were a combination of popular-voted and peer-voted awards.

Year Nominated work Award Result
1982 himself (Men At Work) Best Songwriter Nominated
1983 himself Songwriter of the Year Nominated
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