“Blood-stained Logie”: Spicks & Specks question led to fallout for Adam Hills

Adam Hills and Colin Hay were friends before a quiz question on Down Under. He laments, they haven't spoken for ages.


As he films new episodes of Spicks & Specks, longtime host Adam Hills is reminded of the show’s most notorious question when in 2007 he asked the innocuous question, “What children’s song is contained in the iconic song ‘Down Under’?”

The answer, “Kookaburra”, led to a flurry of queries to Larrikin Music, which owned the music rights to the 1932 nursery rhyme. That triggered a Federal Court copyright trial that was won by Larrikin, and an appeal by Men at Work rejected by the High Court of Australia.

Colin Hay, who co-wrote the song with Ron Strykert, always maintained nothing had been appropriated by the trademark flute riff.

Adam Hills tells TV Tonight he was good friends with Hay before the copyright saga began.

“I house-sat for him in LA for a month when I was over there in about 2005 and then I rented his apartment in Melbourne. I drove his car around for a while. We were actually quite close. It all got weird between us, because he knew it wasn’t my fault that we asked a question about Down Under. But when Greg Ham then passed away, I think it added an extra level of weirdness between us,” he said.

“I haven’t spoken to Colin for ages. I don’t think there’s hate there, but there’s definitely weirdness. I think a lot of Men at Work fans hated me. I got a lot of pretty abusive stuff on Facebook. I vividly remember the phrase ‘Blood-stained Logie‘ being thrown at me.

“And of course being an Australian overseas, people love to introduce you on stage or onto TV shows by playing Down Under. It’s such a bittersweet experience. Because I can’t tell them the full story. But I also walk on stage without a beaming smile on my face.

“That whole incident around Down Under and the copyright thing, just left things sour and weird -that’s the best way to put it.”

Hills, Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough return with new Spicks & Specks episodes in June with new games and some first-time Spicks guests.

“It’s so much fun. There was part of me coming back to it that thought, ‘God am I just returning to the same old scene again?'” he continued.

“This particular series, we’ve given it a bit of a refresh behind the scenes. We’ve got some younger writers, producers and researchers involved. We’re trying to get new acts. We’re trying to balance it as well, because you still want your Dave O’Neals and Hamish (Blakes) and people like that.

“But it’s exciting for me because I’m getting to choose some of the new bands that I’m listening to. I’m most excited we’ve got Johnny from the DMAs, one of my favourite bands at the moment. It feels like there’s a really good vibe around the show this particular series. And it feels refreshed.”

Spicks & Specks returns 7:30pm Sunday June 9 on ABC.

6 Responses

  1. I finally after nearly 20 years went to a taping last night. It was fun but I’m a bit disappointed after waiting all this time that there wasn’t a Hamish or and international artist on the panel at my taping. Nothing against the panel that was on of course. Adam was great, coming down and chatting with us in the audience but Alan and Myf didn’t. So again I was expecting a bit more interaction all up.

  2. Great interview! As a long time Spicks & Specks fan, I had no clue that was what kicked off the lawsuit!
    So glad to see it coming back, they’ve kept it fresh without compromising what makes it special.
    It reminds me of a nicer/simpler time in TV and I mean that as a compliment. One of the very few things on linear that I’d make an effort to watch (albeit via iView).
    I love watching the three of them together – you can feel the love and respect through the screen.

  3. I had no idea that case was started this way! That aside though, I’m delighted to get more Spicks and Specks. It’s just delightful every time and the magic between Adam, Myf and Alan is still there.

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