6 July, 2022
Plenty to sing about after toughest times
When Roger Knox talks about struggle in his singing he's not only referring to the experiences of the indigenous and his desire to bring all Australians together.
He’s also speaking from a place of resilience and hope earned through his own ‘lost years’ – the seven years he spent recovering from injuries sustained in an horrific plane crash.
It was actually two air crashes that landed him in the burns unit for five months and then years of slow recovery.
Roger was travelling with fellow musicians in the
mid-80s when their plane had engine troubles and crash landed near Tamworth.
Everyone on board survived but the rescue efforts continued until dusk and by the time Roger and another passenger were loaded into the final rescue flight, visibility was fading.
Members of the rescue team lined up their vehicles with their lights on so the pilot could see to take off.
“All I remember is taking off then seeing the ground come up to meet us… then I woke up with flames all around me.”
Roger escaped the burning wreckage beating his flaming clothes with his bare hands as he ran.
The other survivor helped him to put out the flames.
The pilot and a fourth occupant in the plane had died.
For Roger, the next seven years would revolve around skin grafts, pain and the slow road to recovery.
“It just makes me feel stronger,” Roger says in reflection.
“When things are going wrong we tend to baulk at things but when we do something we need to give 100 per cent… that’s about commitment and thinking positive.
“Being who I am, being Aboriginal, is a hard world too.
“My aim is to bring the stereotyping down with the songs and the stories that I tell and to develop understanding.
“We are all people, we’ve all got our worries and
our struggles and the best way to get through that is believing we can do things together.”
Roger grew up at Toomelah (previously known as Toomelah Aboriginal Mission) in north western NSW.
He learned to sing in Sunday school and from his grandmother and still has fond memories of the hymns learned as a child.
Known as the Koori King of Country he has gone on to tour the world playing in Canada and the US and around some well known venues in London, to name a few.
He cites a career highlight as recording in Chicago with the noted artist/producer John Langford.
“I talk about the struggles of my people when I sing… about growing up under the government system on the reservation that we were all confined to.
“We didn’t make our own decisions, our stories were taken away.
“I want us all to come back together with understanding and communication of ideas and I do that through music.”
Roger performs a range of musical styles and songs including blues and rock and roll.
He will be playing with his son Buddy’s band, Euraba, on July 10 from 1pm at
the Mill Inn Tavern, Millmerran.
This free event is being sponsored by the Doug Hall Foundation and the Millmerran Arts Council which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.