Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article mentions a deceased person.
KILLARNEY musician Archie Roach has died, aged 66.
The news was broken tonight by Amos and Eban Roach on behalf of the roach family on Archie's Roach's family page tonight.
"We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller Archie Roach," the post said.
"Archie passed, surrounded by his family and loved ones, at Warrnambool Base Hospital after a long illness."
The family thanked the hospital's staff for taking care of the musician over the past month.
"Archie wanted all of his many fans to know how much he loves you for supporting him along the way," the post continued.
"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."
"A private ceremony will follow."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Fellow Killarney musician and friend of Roach, Goanna's Shane Howard shared a heartfelt message on his social media pages.
"Archie Roach left this mortal world tonight, on his big spirit journey, passing from culture back to nature," Howard said.
"I and my family are deeply saddened to hear of my dear brother's passing. We send our condolences to his beloved family."
Howard said the pair played festival together in Australia, England and Ireland as part of the Black Arm Band.
"(We) recorded and co-wrote the closing song for The Secret River together. I also had the honour of producing his Journey album and touring it," Howard said.
"He was also my neighbour and my friend.
"We were both from the same town, the same age.
"My father played footy against Archie's Dad."
When I saw him a few days ago he said 'When I was younger, I thought my life was cursed, but this far down the track I think I was blessed'.- Shane Howard
Howard said when the pair met in Fitzroy in the 1980s, he 'couldn't believe' they had grown up in the same country town.
"But we never met back in childhood. He was taken away as a child," Howard said.
"Like so many Aboriginal people, Archie had to deal with much in his lifetime. Loss of childhood, loss of family, loss of identity, loss of his country.
He also carried a lot of people's stories and memories. He was an unrelenting and generous champion for his people and there is a line of his that keeps returning to me: "...For lives that never stood a chance"."
"He carried the collective loss of his people, which is immense, on his broad shoulders. Sometimes you felt that the weight of that burden threatened to crush him. It would crush most people.
"But when Archie sang, he soared like an eagle and gave voice to all of that pain, suffering, loss, joy and inevitably, redemption. His great gift was that he did it in a way that liberated us all."
"When I saw him a few days ago he said 'When I was younger, I thought my life was cursed, but this far down the track I think I was blessed.'
"Let our tears fall tonight for what the whole country has lost. There is a tear in the tapestry of our national soul. Let our brother's passing bring us together and strengthen our resolve to embrace the Uluru Statement from the Heart and bring to reality the healing and justice in this country that Archie yearned for, in his songs and his big spirit."
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