Numerous musicians and public figures have honoured legendary Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung) and Bundjalung songwriter Archie Roach, following his death on Saturday (30th July) at the age of 66. Roach’s passing was confirmed in a statement by his sons, Amos and Eban Roach, citing a “long illness” as the cause of death and saying he passed surrounded by family and loves ones at Warrnambool Base Hospital.
“Archie wanted all of his many fans to know how much he loves you for supporting him along the way,” Amos and Eban Roach 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.”
Archie Roach – ‘Took the Children Away’
Among the many to remember Roach’s enormous life and legacy were rapper Briggs, who inducted Roach into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020, and the singer-songwriters Alice Skye and Emily Wurramara, who reflected on the “huge” loss of a figure as singular as Roach. “There can be none other like Uncle Archie Roach,” said Wurramara.
Midnight Oil remembered Roach as “a true gentle man” who wrote “songs deep from the heart”, while Jimmy Barnes called him “a beautiful soulful singer” who “touched a lot of people”. Others who honoured Roach included Troy Cassar-Daley, who tweeted: “Rest now Uncle Archie your work is done, your spirit is free and you have woven your beautiful music into all our hearts forever.”
Roach was born in Mooroopna, Victoria, in 1956, though he was taken from his home and placed in a state orphanage at the age of two as part of what is now known as the Stolen Generations, which he would later write about on his best-known song, ‘Took the Children Away’.
Roach’s music career began in the 1980s, and after capturing the attention of Paul Kelly, he entered the studio in early 1990 to record his debut album, Charcoal Lane. He went on to win Best New Talent and Best Indigenous Release at the 1991 ARIA Awards. Roach would release nine more albums over the next three decades – the most recent being 2020’s The Songs of Charcoal Lane, a re-recording of his 1990 debut.
Thank you Unc, for everything. Rest easy. pic.twitter.com/sDWukR4jpu
— Senator Briggs (@Briggs) July 30, 2022
— alice skye (@alicedotskye) July 31, 2022
Archie was a beautiful soulful singer. He touched a lot of people and he will be sadly missed. RIP my friend. pic.twitter.com/PYwqlXlXLi
— Jimmy Barnes (@JimmyBarnes) July 31, 2022
Rest now Uncle Archie your work is done, your spirit is free and you have woven your beautiful music into all our hearts forever, after a heavy week of sorrow and reflection your music is playing at Mum’s old place today ,say hello to Mummy for me please Arch we will miss you xx pic.twitter.com/IXOCFffXlb
— Troy Cassar-Daley (@troycassardaley) July 31, 2022
On a 5 hour drive today, Shane and I randomly listened to Archie Roach’s 'Jamu Dreaming' from start to finish. Discussing how heartbreakingly beautiful the song ‘walking into doors’ is. I was so lucky to have performed with this legend. I’m so sad to now hear of his passing. 😞
— Amy Shark (@amyshark) July 30, 2022
Rest in power Uncle. Thank you🖤🔥❤️
— BIRDZ (@MisterBirdZ) July 30, 2022
Farewell to the great Archie Roach; a true gentle man, songs deep from the heart, much loved by his people – massive respect across the land.https://t.co/2TqOjKw3ak
— Midnight Oil (@midnightoilband) July 31, 2022
Absolutely Heart broken- love you uncle A.R ❤️
— Emily Wurramara (@EmilyWurramara) July 30, 2022
So saddened to hear the passing of such a champion for First Nations people and all humanity. I will remember (Uncle) Archie Roach as such a courageous story teller and remarkable musician! You’ll never be forgotten. Rest in Peace. Sincerest condolences to all the family. pic.twitter.com/7OVBfvRldw
— Cathy Freeman (@CathyFreeman) July 30, 2022
We all mourn the passing of Archie Roach, poet warrior of First Nations. His contribution and commitment to healing and truth telling will be a lasting legacy, as we go forward to a reconciled nation where respect is given to the truth of our history.
— Patrick Dodson (@SenatorDodson) July 31, 2022
Archie’s music drew from a well of trauma and pain, but it flowed with a beauty and a resonance that moved us all.
We grieve for his death, we honour his life and we hold to the hope that his words, his music and his indomitable spirit will live on to guide us and inspire us.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) July 30, 2022
Sorry to hear of the death of the great Indigenous Australian songwriter and activist Archie Roach. His passing is not just a loss to Australia, but also to all of us who believe that music can be used as a tool to seek justice. https://t.co/iAxDD6CUO6
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) July 30, 2022
You taught me life’s deepest lessons. You are an inspiration, but so much more. You embodied grace. I am so lucky to have talked and made music with you, a truly Great Australian. My love to your family, and to your many friends. You are with me forever, Uncle Archie Roach.
— paul grabowsky (@paulgrab) July 30, 2022
The deep sadness of losing Uncle Archie is resonating around this land.
Listen to his music.
Feel his spirit and poetry.
My deepest condolences to his family and extended family. #archieroach
— Julia Zemiro (@julia_zemiro) July 31, 2022