Photo credit: Adrian Cook

Musicians and Public Figures Respond to the Death of Archie Roach

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.”

Billy Bragg, John Butler, Amy Shark, Barkaa, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Olympic gold medalist Cathy Freeman are among those who also paid tribute to Roach. See more below.

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.

Further reading

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

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’

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