Behind the news

Archie Roach

About Archie

Archie is Australia’s beloved, respected and admired Aboriginal singer/songwriter who inspired many. Born in The City of Greater Shepparton, 1956.

In 1956, Archie 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 was born.

While still a very young child, 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 enduring two unpleasant placements in fostercare Roach was eventually fostered by the Coxes, a family of Scottish immigrants in Melbourne. The Coxes' eldest daughter, Mary, played keyboards and guitar in a local pentecostal church, and taught Roach the basics of both instruments. He was further inspired by his foster father's record collection, which included old Scottish ballads and songs by Billie Holiday,The Ink Spots, The Drifters and Nat King Cole.

About Archies musical career

As a young man, Roach received a letter from an older sister, describing to him the events of their childhood. Angry and hurt, he left his foster home carrying only a guitar. Penniless, he travelled to Sydney and Adelaide, and spent time living on the streets, trying to make sense of his upbringing and find his natural family. He went through periods of alcoholism and despair, but also began to produce music. During this time Roach met his lifelong partner, and musical soulmate,Ruby Hunter. They started a family. Later in their marriage, their home became an open house for teenage Aborigines living on the streets. In the late 1980s ruby and archie created a band called the Altogethers with several other indigenous Australians, and they moved to Melbourne.

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.

His wife Ruby Hunter died on 17 February 2010 aged 54, and then on 14 October 2010 Roach suffered a stroke while working in the Kimberly 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.