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 some commercial success. In 2002 Hay appeared as the Troubadour in the Scrubs episode, "My Overkill", and 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, named for his own strabismus (lazy eye) condition, and has made appearances in cult movies such as Cosi and television shows, such as The Larry Sanders Show, JAG, and The Mick Molloy Show. Hay also appeared on television in the ABC show Scrubs, which 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 December 2005, Hay and Heather Mills digitally re-released "My Brilliant Feat" as a charity single as a tribute to the late football (soccer) 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.
In 2006 he provided his voice for one of the characters in animated movie The Wild. Hay has also been a member of Ringo Starr's eighth and tenth 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.
Hay contributed music to the TV series Scrubs in the course of a number of episodes, including on-camera performances. In episode 1 of season 2 he performs an acoustic version of the Men at Work-hit "Overkill", and he also makes appearances in "My Hard Labor"
Hay released his 10th album, "American Sunshine", on 18 August 2009 by Compass Records.
In 2009, Colin Hay's former group, Men at Work, were named in a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement by Larrikin Music, who owns the rights to the Kookaburra song. Larrikin Music claims that part of a flute riff from the band's 1981 single "Down Under" was copied from "Kookaburra" originally written by music teacher, Marion Sinclair, who died in 1988. In February 2010, a court ruled in favor 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 May 2009, Colin Hay performed at the Artist for the Arts Foundation benefit at Barnum Hall, Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, CA. Performing live, along side Curt Smith (Tears for Fears) Fee Waybill (Tubes) & Venice and over 70 members of the Santa Monica High School (SaMoHi) Orchestra and Girls Choir ,the benefit helped to provide funds for the continuation of Music Education in public schools. The event was filmed and recorded by Harry Rabin of On the WAVE Productions and can be seen on the the AFTA Foundation website. In August 2010, Hay performed in Missoula, Montana with a Los Angeles Roots rock band named Patrolled By Radar.
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