Indigenous artist Archie Roach dies

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this story contains images of a deceased person.

Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, singer and storyteller Archie Roach has died aged 66.

The Australian singer-songwriter’s death was confirmed on Saturday evening by his record label, in a statement on behalf of his family.

Archie Roach
Archie Roach has passed away at the age of 66. (included/Phil Nichie)

Sons Amos and Eban Roach “have authorized the use of Archie’s name, image and music so that his legacy will continue to inspire,” it reads.

Roach died Saturday, surrounded by his family and loved ones, at Warrnambool Base Hospital in Victoria after a long illness.

The singer took the stage at the St Kilda Festival in February this year, wearing breathing aids.

“Thank you to all the staff who have looked after Archie over the past month,” the statement read.

The singer took the stage at the St Kilda Festival in February this year, wearing breathing aids.
The singer took the stage at the St Kilda Festival in February this year, wearing breathing aids. (Scott McNaughton / The Era)

“Archie wanted all his many fans to know how much he loves you for supporting him along the way.

“We are so proud of everything our father has accomplished in his remarkable life. He was a healer and unifying force.

“His music brought people together.”

Roach was named Victoria Australian of the Year 2020 where he paid tribute to his late wife Ruby, who passed away in 2010.

Archie Roach.  February 1, 1993. (Photo by Lisa Thomasetti, Aurora).
Archie Roach photographed in February 1993 (Lisa Thomasetti, Aurora)

Later that same year, the artist was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and in 2013 received a Deadly Award for a lifetime contribution to healing the stolen generations.

The singer’s memoirs from 2019 Tell me why: the story of my life and my music was awarded the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award at a virtual ceremony in February 2021.

“We also need to understand and write about the experience and history of the First People [as migrants’ experiences] because they are both connected, they are intertwined. We really can’t separate the two,” he said in his statement of acceptance at the time.

The family will hold a private ceremony.

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