Archie Roach
Archie Roach | Photo by Phil Nitchie

Archie Roach, Beloved Indigenous Musician And Storyteller, Dies Aged 66

Acclaimed Indigenous musician and storyteller Archie Roach has passed away at the age of 66. In a statement released alongside the announcement of his passing, Roach’s sons cited “a long illness” as the cause of death.

“We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller Archie Roach,” the statement, shared by Amos and Eban Roach, explained. “Archie passed, surrounded by his family and loved ones, at Warrnambool Base Hospital after a long illness. We thank all the staff who have cared for Archie over the past month.”

Archie Roach – ‘Took The Children Away’

“Archie wanted all of his many fans to know how much he loves you for supporting him along the way,” Amos and Eban said. “We are so proud of everything our dad achieved in his remarkable life. He was a healer and unifying force. His music brought people together.”

In addition to requesting privacy, Roach’s sons noted that a private ceremony will take place soon. They also gave permission for Roach’s name, image, and music to be used alongside discussion of his passing, “so that his legacy will continue to inspire.”

Archie Roach was born in Mooroopna, Victoria in 1956, though he became a member of the Stolen Generations just two years later when he and his sisters were removed from their family and placed in a state orphanage. These horrifying experiences would later be immortalised in Roach’s most iconic song, ‘Took The Children Away’.

Roach began his musical career in the ’80s, collaborating with wife Ruby Hunter as a member of The Altogethers. After capturing the attention of Paul Kelly, Roach entered the studio in early 1990 to record his debut album, Charcoal Lane, which won the ARIA Award for Best New Talent and Best Indigenous Release at the 1991 ARIA Awards.

Roach released a total of ten albums across the next 30 years, with his final record, The Songs Of Charcoal Lane, being released in 2020, the same year he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Earlier this month, Roach made his debut on triple j’s Like A Version, performing a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ as part of NAIDOC Week.

Further Reading

Hip Hop Artist J-MILLA Joins Archie Roach For Survival Day Kitchen Table Yarn

The Teskey Brothers & Emma Donovan Cover Archie Roach’s ‘Get Back To The Land’

Archie Roach’s Memoir Wins Victorian Premier’s Literary Award

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