Archibald William Roach is an Aboriginal Australian musician.
He is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, as well as a campaigner for the rights of Indigenous Australians. Roach's debut solo album, Charcoal Lane, was released in 1990. It featured the song "Took the Children Away", which was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in 2013.
Also in 2013 he won a Deadly Award for Lifetime Contribution to Healing the Stolen Generations as well as for Album of the Year. Along with fellow Deadly winner Pat O'Shane, he called for an end to the Northern Territory Intervention.
Roach has toured around the globe, headlining and opening shows for Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega and Patti Smith. At the 2020 ARIA Music Awards on 25 November 2020 Roach was inducted into their Hall of Fame.
Born on 8 January 1956 in Mooroopna, Victoria. Mooroopna is named after an Aboriginal word referring to a bend in the Goulburn River, near Shepparton in central Victoria. In 1956, Roach's family, along with the rest of the area's Indigenous population, were re-housed on Rumbalara mission. Roach and his family subsequently moved to Framlingham, where his mother had been born.
At the age of 4, Roach and his sisters, along with the other Indigenous Australian children of the stolen generations, were forcibly removed from their family by Australian government agencies and placed in an orphanage. After two unpleasant placements in foster care, Roach was eventually fostered by Alex and Dulcie Cox, a family of Scottish immigrants in Melbourne.
Alex Cox would sing traditional ballads and introduced Roach to guitar and keyboards. Roach said "He was a big influence on me — a good influence. I'll love him to the day I die."
At the age of fifteen, Roach was contacted by his natural sister, who told him their mother had just died. He spent the next fourteen years on the streets, battling alcoholism. Roach met his future wife, Ruby Hunter, at a Salvation Army drop-in centre known as the People's Palace in Adelaide when she was sixteen. The pair, who shared a deep love of music, formed a lifelong bond. The couple had two sons, turned their lives around and went on to foster and raise an extended family of homeless children, while their musical partnership took them onto stages across Australia and around the world.
Archie Roach has been recording award winning albums for nearly 30 years. In that time he has gifted us with a songbook of incredible import. From his debut award winning album, Charcoal Lane, released in 1990 to his latest release, a 3CD box set of live recordings called Archie Roach The Concert Collection 2012-2018, he continues to write songs that get to the heart of what it means to be human. And what he sees at the heart of humanity is love.
The Archie Roach Foundation was established in 2014 to nurture meaningful and potentially life changing opportunities for First Nation artists.
The Foundation seeks to walk alongside those working in the arts and young people heading down the wrong track just like Archie was, to support them to be the best that they can be.
Archie knows what it means to have someone walk beside you at key crossroads in your life; to help point you in a deadly direction and empower you to take the next positive step.
He also understands the power of music and storytelling to communicate, connect and heal and is committed to helping others share their story which creates a stronger, more cohesive culturally respectful national story.
Archie is currently writing his Memoir, an important and much anticipated Australian story, which will be in shops early November this year. He will also be releasing a companion album.
Roach currently lives on a homestead near Berri, South Australia, with his children. His home has become something of a refuge for troubled Aboriginal youngsters, now dealing with some of the problems he himself faced. Roach is a supporter of Justice Action, a criminal justice reform organization based in Sydney, Australia.
Roach's wife, Ruby, died on 17 February 2010 aged 54. On 14 October 2010, Roach suffered a stroke while working in the Kimberley region. After recuperating, he returned to live performance in April 2011. He has also survived lung cancer, due to early diagnosis in 2011 and major surgery.
Not many have lived as many lives – from stolen child, teenage alcoholic, seeker, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, to social advocate and First Nations leader – but it took almost a lifetime to find who he really was.
He is Archie Roach.