10 amazing facts about Archie Roach

BY BETH TAYLOR

To coincide with the release of Archie Roach's autobiography and companion album Tell Me Why (2019), the NFSA is honouring Archie's career with an online exhibition Archie Roach: His Story in Song and two curated collections, Archie Roach and Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter. Each collection is filled with rare footage, live recordings, photographs, documents and home movies.

WARNING: this article, the online exhibition and curated collections contain names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Archie Roach looks at the camera.

Archie Roach. Photo credit: Adrian Cook.

Archie has been performing since 1988, releasing 9 studio albums, 2 live albums and the soundtrack for The Tracker (2002).

He was named as 2020 Victorian Australian of the Year, adding to his many accolades, including 5 ARIA Awards and a Human Rights Medal in 1990 for 'Took The Children Away'.

Did you know?

  1. After a stroke in 2010 Archie had to learn how to play guitar again.
  2. Boxer Lionel Rose is Archie's cousin. Archie's Dad 'Snowball' was also a boxer.
  3. Archie donated a kidney to his brother Lawrence.
  4. In an incredible coincidence, Ruby Hunter saw Archie in the studio audience on The Happy Hammond Show when they were both kids and said to her foster Mum 'I'm going to marry that boy!' AND SHE DID!
  5. Apart from being a musician and author Archie has worked at a range of jobs including: drug and alcohol counsellor, floral arranging, salt shovelling, blacksmithing, working in an abattoir and even a short time as a tent boxer.
  6. He has a deep passion for social justice and has written songs about Indigenous deaths in custody and the racially motivated murder of Louis 'St John' Johnson.
  7. Archie brings people together. He has collaborated with a long list of greats including Paul Simon, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Paul Kelly, David Bridie, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Grabowsky, Australian Art Orchestra, and of course his partner Ruby Hunter.
  8. His family nickname is Butterboy because when he was little he covered himself in butter, he loved it so much.
  9. He's toured with artists including Bob Dylan, Yothu Yindi, Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, Patti Smith and Joan Armatrading.
  10. His foster father Alex loved music and his broad musical taste – from Scottish traditional songs and country music to gospel artist Mahalia Jackson and jazz artists like The Ink Spots and Nat King Cole – gave Archie an early love of music.

Learn more about Archie's life and work in the online exhibition Archie Roach: His Story in Song, and the two curated collections, Archie Roach and Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter.