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Archibald William Roach, AM[1] (born 8 January 1956, Mooroopna)[2] is an Australian musician. He is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, as well as a campaigner for the rights of Indigenous Australians.

Archie Roach
Archie Roach 2016.jpg
Roach in 2016
Background information
Birth nameArchibald William Roach
Born (1956-01-08) 8 January 1956 (age 63)
Mooroopna, Victoria, Australia
GenresAlternative rock, world music, roots
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, six-string guitar
Years active1980s–present
Liberation Music
ABC Music
Associated actsThe Altogethers
Ruby Hunter

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.[3] 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.[4] Roach has toured around the globe, headlining and opening shows for Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega and Patti Smith.[5]

Life and careerEdit

1956–1980s: Early lifeEdit

Archibald William Roach was 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.[2] According to Roach, "My name is Archie Roach and I represent 'Nature's gifts' because my song "Took the Children Away" won a human rights award. My lyrics draw attention to, the hardship and humiliation suffered by many Indigenous Australians."[2] 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.[6]

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.[7] After two unpleasant placements in foster care, Roach was eventually fostered by Alex and Dulcie Cox, a family of Scottish immigrants in Melbourne.[8] 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."[8]

At the age of fifteen, Roach was contacted by his natural sister, who told him their birth 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 when she was sixteen.[7]

1989–2000: Charcoal Lane, Jamu Dreaming and Looking for Butter BoyEdit

In the late 1980s, Roach and Hunter formed a band, the Altogethers, with several other Indigenous Australians and moved to Melbourne. Roach wrote his first song, "Took the Children Away", which he performed on a community radio station in Melbourne and on an Indigenous current affairs program in 1988. Australian musician Paul Kelly invited Roach to open his concert early in 1989, where he performed "Took the Children Away", a song telling the story of the Stolen Generations and his own experience of being forcibly removed from his family.[9] His performance was met with stunned silence, followed by shattering applause.[7]

In 1990, with the encouragement of Kelly, Roach recorded his debut solo album, Charcoal Lane, which was released in May 1990. The album was certified gold and awarded two ARIA Awards at the 1991 ceremony. The album included "Took the Children Away" which became one of the most important songs in Australia's contemporary history.[10] In 1992, it won an international Human Rights Achievement Award and featured in the top 50 albums for 1992 by Rolling Stone magazine.[7]

In May 1993, Roach released his second studio album, Jamu Dreaming. The album was recorded with musical assistance from David Bridie, Tiddas, Paul Kelly, Vika and Linda Bull, Ruby Hunter, Dave Arden and Joe Geia.[11] The album peaked at number 55 on the ARIA Charts.

In 1995, Roach toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, the UK and Europe. He returned to Australia to record the title track for ATSIC's Native Title CD, Our Home, Our Land, with Tiddas, Kev Carmody, Bart Willoughby, Shane Howard and Bunna Laurie. In 1996, Roach performed as part of a presentation to the Human Rights Commission's Inquiry into the Stolen Generations, before embarking on a national tour as a guest of Tracy Chapman.[12]

In October 1997, Roach released his third studio album, Looking for Butter Boy, which was recorded on his traditional land at Port Fairy in south-western Victoria.[11] The album's lead single, "Hold On Tight", won the ARIA Award for Best Indigenous Release in 1997 and the album won the same award at the 1998 award ceremony.

2001–2009: Sensual Being and JourneyEdit

In July 2002, Roach released his fourth studio album, Sensual Being, which peaked at number 59 on the ARIA charts. In 2002, he worked on the Rolf de Heer film The Tracker.

In 2004, Roach and Hunter collaborated with the Australian Art Orchestra and Paul Grabowsky to create a musical experience titled Ruby. Ruby tells the story of Ruby Hunter from her birth near a billabong on the banks of the Murray River, through the stolen generation, search for identity and the discovery of hope through love. In 2004, it won The Deadly Awards for "Excellence in Film & Theatrical Score".[13]

In October 2007, Roach released Journey, an album of songs as a companion piece to a documentary film called Liyarn Ngarn, made with Roach, Patrick Dodson and Pete Postlethwaite.[14]

In November 2009, ABC Music released previously unreleased Roach recordings from 1988 under the album title 1988.

2010–2016: Into the Bloodstream and Let Love RuleEdit

Roach performing at WOMADelaide in 2011.

In October 2012, Roach released Into the Bloodstream, an album he described as being built on pain following the death of his wife in February 2010.[15]

In October 2013, Roach released Creation, a 4-CD box set of his first four studio albums. The album was released to coincide with the premiere of Roach's new live show, also entitled Creation, which debuted at the inaugural Boomerang Festival in Byron Bay from 4-6 October 2013.[16]

At the APRA Music Awards of 2015 2015, Roach (and Shane Howard) won Best Original Song Composed for the Screen "The Secret River" from The Secret River.[17]

In November 2015, Roach celebrated the 25th anniversary of Charcoal Lane with a deluxe remastered edition. The new edition included a second disc featuring previously unreleased Triple J - Live At The Wireless recordings and new interpretations of classic Charcoal Lane material by various artists. In November and December 2015, Roach undertook a national tour to celebrate the album's 25th anniversary.[18]

In November 2016, Roach released his seventh studio album, Let Love Rule, which peaked at number 24 on the ARIA Charts, becoming his highest charting album to date.

2017-present: The Concert Collection 2012–2018 and Tell Me WhyEdit

At the APRA Music Awards of 2017 in March 2017, Roach won the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music.[9]

In April 2018, Roach performed at the Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony on the Gold Coast with Amy Shark.[19]

In May 2019, Roach released The Concert Collection 2012–2018 and in July 2019, was nominated for two awards at the 2019 National Indigenous Music Awards.[20]

In November 2019, Roach is due to release a memoir and companion album titled, Tell Me Why. The album's lead single "Open Up Your Eyes" is the first song Roach ever wrote, dating back to the late 1970s, but it has never been recorded until now.[21]

Personal lifeEdit

Roach (right) with Ruby Hunter at the 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival

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.[citation needed] Roach is a supporter of Justice Action, a criminal justice reform organisation based in Sydney, Australia.

Roach's wife, Ruby Hunter, died on 17 February 2010 aged 54. On 14 October 2010, Roach suffered a stroke while working in the Kimberley region.[5] 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.[22]

Awards and honoursEdit

ARIA AwardsEdit

Roach has received five ARIA Music Awards from fourteen nominations.[23]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1991 Charcoal Lane ARIA Award for Best New Talent Won
ARIA Award for Best Indigenous Release Won
ARIA Award for Breakthrough Artist – Album Nominated
"Took the Children Away" ARIA Award for Breakthrough Artist – Single Nominated
1992 "Down City Streets" Best Indigenous Release Nominated
1994 Jamu Dreaming Best Indigenous Release Nominated
1997 "Hold On Tight" Best Indigenous Release Won
1998 Looking for Butter Boy Best Indigenous Release Won
ARIA Award for Best Adult Contemporary Album Won
2002 Sensual Being Best Adult Contemporary Album Nominated
The Tracker ARIA Award for Best Original Soundtrack, Cast or Show Album Nominated
2008 Journey ARIA Award for Best World Music Album Nominated
2010 1988 Best World Music Album Nominated
2013 Into the Bloodstream ARIA Award for Best Blues and Roots Album Nominated

Other awards and honoursEdit


Studio albumsEdit

List of Studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions Certifications
Charcoal Lane
  • Released: May 1990
  • Label: Aurura, Mushroom Records (D30386)
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Jamu Dreaming
  • Released: May 1993
  • Label: Aurura, Mushroom (D30851)
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Looking for Butter Boy
  • Released: October 1997
  • Label: Aurura, Mushroom (320122)
  • Formats: CD
Sensual Being
  • Released: 22 July 2002
  • Label: Mushroom (335192)
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: 29 October 2007
  • Label: Liberation (LIBCD9259.2)
  • Formats: CD
Into the Bloodstream
  • Released: 19 October 2012
  • Label: Liberation (LMCD0197)
  • Formats: CD
Let Love Rule
  • Released: 11 November 2016
  • Label: Liberation (LMCD0297)
  • Formats: CD, DD, streaming
Dancing with My Spirit
  • Released: 13 April 2018
  • Label: Mushroom Music Publishing (335192)
  • Formats: CD, DD, streaming, LP
Tell Me Why
  • Released: 1 November 2019[21]
  • Label: Bloodlines Records (BLOOD62)
  • Formats: 2xCD, DD, streaming, LP
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albumsEdit

List of Live albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions
Ruby (with Ruby Hunter, Paul Grabowsky and Australian Art Orchestra)
  • Released: 2005
  • Label: Australian Art Orchestra
  • Formats: CD
The Concert Collection 2012–2018
  • Released: 17 May 2019[32]
  • Label: Bloodlines (BLOOD54)
  • Formats: CD, DD, streaming

Soundtrack albumsEdit

List of soundtrack albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions
The Tracker
  • Released: 12 August 2002
  • Label: Mushroom (334932)
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albumsEdit

List of compilation albums
Title Details
The Definitive Collection
Music Deli Presents Archie Roach 1988
  • Released: November 2009
  • Label: ABC Music (1791253)
  • Format: CD
  • NB: Early recordings from 1988
  • Released: 4 October 2013
  • Label: Aurora, Festival (FEST601011)
  • Format: 4-CD box set of Roach's first 4 studio albums
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


List of singles as lead artist
Title Year Album
"Took the Children Away" 1990 Charcoal Lane
"Down City Streets" 1991
"From Paradise" 1993 Jamu Dreaming
"Walking into Doors"
"Hold On Tight" 1997 Looking for Butter Boy
"Watching Over Me"
"All Men Choose the Path They Walk" 2002 The Tracker
"Alien Invasion" Sensual Being
"A Child Was Born Tonight" 2005 Ruby
"Song to Sing"[35] 2012 Into the Bloodstream
"We Won't Cry"[36]
"Colour of Your Jumper"[37] 2013
(Mau Power featuring Archie Roach)[38]
"It's Not Too Late"[39] 2016 Let Love Rule
"Get Back to the Land"[40]
"Open Your Eyes"[21] 2019 Tell Me Why

Other singlesEdit

List of other singles
Title Year
"Our Home, Our Land"
(with various artists)
"Yil Lull"
(as Singers for the Red Black & Gold)
"You're the Voice"[41]
(as United Voices Against Domestic Violence)
"Song for Elijah (Wrap Our Arms Around You)"[42]
(with various artists)


  1. ^ Journey did not enter the ARIA Top 100 Albums Chart, but peaked at number 8 on the ARIA Hitseekers Chart.[31]
  2. ^ The Concert Collection 2012-2018 did not enter the ARIA Top 100 Albums Chart, but peaked at number 42 on the ARIA Physical Sales chart.[33]
  3. ^ The Tracker did not enter the ARIA Top 100 Albums Chart, but peaked at number 14 on the ARIA Hitseekers Chart.[34]


  1. ^ "Queen's birthday honours". Sydney Morning Herald. 8 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Roach, Archie (1999). "Roach, Archie". HistorySmiths. National Library of Australia. Archived from the original on 23 January 2001. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  3. ^ "National Film and Sound Archive". Sounds of Australia. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Deadly Archie wants action from Abbott". Sydney Morning Herald. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Aboriginal singer Archie Roach recovering from stroke". Daily Telegraph. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  6. ^ Roach, A. (2002) lyrics to "Move It On" on Sensual Being
  7. ^ a b c d "Archie Roach, 1992 (printed 2010)". portrait. 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  8. ^ a b "From stolen child to Indigenous leader: Archie Roach sings the songs that signpost his life". ABC. 12 July 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Archie Roach Receives Ted Albert Award". APRA AMCOS. 27 March 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Archie Roach's song: 'Took the Children Away'". Rumington. July 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Artist Archie Roach". ABC. 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Archie Roach Deadly". Deadly. November 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Ruby's Story". AAO. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Archie Roach - Journey Archie's 2007 Studio Album on CD". Captain Stomp. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Out of the pain, a spirit rises". SMH. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  16. ^ "ARCHIE ROACH 4CD SET 'CREATION' IS OUT NOW!". Facebook. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  17. ^ "2015 SCREEN MUSIC AWARDS". APRA AMCOS. 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Charcoal Lane (25th Anniversary Edition)". JBHiFi. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Commonwealth Games closing ceremony a disastrous finish to a brilliant event". Courier Mail. 15 April 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  20. ^ "National Indigenous Music Awards unveils 2019 Nominations". National Indigenous Music Awards. July 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  21. ^ a b c "Archie Roach Has A Companion Album For His New Book". noise11. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  22. ^ "Into the Bloodstream, Archie Roach". ABC. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  23. ^ "ARIA Awards - History". Australian Record Industry Association. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  24. ^ "2011 Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Queens Birthday honours 2015: full list". 8 June 2015.
  26. ^ Brandle, Lars (27 March 2017). "Archie Roach to Receive Australia's Ted Albert Award". Billboard. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  27. ^ "Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) | Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Dream of love, and success will come (pp32-34)" (PDF). AIATSIS - The Koori Mail. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  29. ^ a b c Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
  30. ^ "Songlines Archie Roach". Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  31. ^ "ARIA Report Issue 925" (PDF). ARIA. November 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  32. ^ "The Concert Collection 2012-2018". JBHiFi. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  33. ^ "ARIA Report Issue 1525" (PDF). ARIA. 22 May 2019. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  34. ^ "ARIA Report Issue 651" (PDF). ARIA. 19 August 2002. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  35. ^ "Song to Sing (Official Video)". October 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2018 – via YouTube.
  36. ^ "Archie Roach - We Won't Cry (featuring Paul Kelly)". airit. 8 October 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  37. ^ "Colour of Your Jumper – Single". iTunes Store. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  38. ^ "Freedom – Single". iTunes Store. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  39. ^ "It's Not Too Late (Official Video)". August 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2018 – via YouTube.
  40. ^ "Get Back to the Land (Official Video)". November 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2018 – via YouTube.
  41. ^ "You're the Voice - single". iTunes Store. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  42. ^ "Song for Elijah (Wrap Our Arms Around You) - single". iTunes Store. Retrieved 10 October 2018.

External linksEdit