“Love can make your spirits sing, oh, it’s everything” – Archie Roach, ‘Love Is Everything’
We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend Archie Roach, one of the most significant artists in the 50-year history of the Mushroom Group.
Archie was a proud Gunditjmara and Bundjalung man, and he taught us so much about our nation. Most Australians didn’t know about the Stolen Generations until Archie told his own story in ‘Took The Children Away’ – a song that came 18 years before an Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologised to the Stolen Generations.
Paul Kelly and the late-great Steve Connolly, the guitarist in Paul’s band, The Messengers, brought Archie to the Mushroom Group and he signed to Mushroom Publishing and Mushroom Records.
Archie’s work was championed by Michael Gudinski and Warren Costello and every member of the Mushroom family past and present. That voice! A voice that soothes the soul of the nation.
Importantly, Archie wasn’t afraid to call things out when he saw something that was wrong. To highlight injustice and change things for the better. But Archie was an artist who was all about hope and healing, understanding and compassion. His music brought people together.
And Archie had a deep love for the land. As he said,“We’re no more important or less important than a flower, than a breath of wind, than a blade of grass, and it feels good to know this. It makes me happy to know this. It makes me smile.”
The Mushroom Group would like to acknowledge Archie’s personal manager of the past two decades, Jill Shelton, and thank her for her love and devotion to Archie and his career. We also fondly remember Archie’s musical and life partner, Ruby Hunter, who we lost way too soon, in 2010.
“If you really want to know me,” Archie would say simply, “listen to my songs.” Archie’s songs were a gift to the nation. And it was a privilege to help Archie release his music and have his songs heard.
From ‘Took The Children Away’ and Archie’s debut album, Charcoal Lane, in 1990, to this year’s career anthology, My Songs: 1989-2021, every record was special.
“Life is so short,” Archie wrote in his autobiography, “especially for us.”
But he achieved so much.
Archie was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “significant service to the performing arts as a singer, songwriter and guitarist and to the community as a spokesman for social justice”, while ‘Took The Children Away’ received a Human Rights Achievement Award – a first for any songwriter.
At the Deadly Awards in 2013, Archie received the Lifetime Contribution Award for Healing the Stolen Generations. He also received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Australia Council for the Arts. And he was the 2020 Victorian Australian of the Year.
Archie was inducted into the Music Victoria Hall of Fame in 2015, and received APRA’s highest honour, the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music, in 2017. And Archie was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020. He also won eight ARIA Awards.
We mourn Archie’s passing, but celebrate his remarkable life.
Archie was a softly spoken man. But his voice will be heard forever. As he sang on the Let Love Rule album, “I’ll always be here.”
Archie Roach was a storyteller. A songman. An educator. A healer. A father. A family man. And a friend.
And everyone at the Mushroom Group is a better person for having known and worked with him.