"We've lost him now, but we're going to have one last gig for Archie."
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has confirmed that legendary Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung songwriter and storyteller Archie Roach will be given a state funeral next month.
The influential figure, who passed away in July, will be farewelled and celebrated at a free ticketed event at Sidney Myer Music Bowl on December 15, which will also be live-streamed.
“In 1990, before the release of his first album, Archie Roach played a set to open for Paul Kelly at Hamer Hall,” Andrews said.
“It was a huge step up from the small gigs he'd been playing. As he finished his final track, he heard nothing. He thought he'd bombed. As Archie turned to walk off stage, a wave of applause took over the hall.
"Took The Children Away had left the audience in stunned silence. From then, everything changed.
“His debut album would become a massive hit, and his music would change our state forever. We've lost him now, but we're going to have one last gig for Archie.
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“And I reckon it's going to be unforgettable.”
Archie Roach passed away following a spell of long illness at Warrnambool Base Hospital surrounded by his family and loved ones.
The news was revealed via a statement posted to his Facebook page from Amos and Eban Roach on behalf of the Roach Family.
"Archie wanted all of his many fans to know how much he loves you for supporting him along the way,” the statement said.
"We are so proud of everything our dad achieved in his remarkable life. He was a healer and unifying force. His music brought people together.”
Roach's catalogue and activisim took him to considerable heights including being inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2011. He was also honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours list as a Member of the Order of Australia, was named 2020 Victorian Australian of the year.
This year, two pillar-shaped monuments were erected on the shores of Lake Bonney at Barmera to honour him and his wife Ruby Hunter who passed away in 2010.
Back in August, family, friends and fans paid tribute to the legend, gathering in the streets of Collingwood, Fitzroy and St Kilda as Archie Roach, escorted by the Southern Warriors Aboriginal Motorcycle Club, Amos and Eban Roach, made one final journey through the streets of Narrm/Melbourne on his way to Warrnambool, his final resting place.