Jan. 21, 2017: Maggie Roche, of Folk’s Roches Trio, Dies at 65

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Sisters Suzzy, Maggie and Terre Roche, in 1985 (Photo via the Roches Facebook page)

Maggie Roche, who with her sisters Terre and Suzzy formed the vocal trio The Roches in the late 1960s, died January 21, 2017, at age 65. The cause was cancer. The group’s Facebook page posted the following:

“Friends, my dear, beautiful sister Maggie passed away today after a long struggle with cancer. She was a private person, too sensitive and shy for this world, but brimming with life, love, and talent. I want to let you know how grateful she was to everyone who listened and understood her through her music and her songs. After decades of singing, writing, traveling and performing together, we spent the last month and a half helping each other through her final journey, now I have to let her go. I’m heartbroken. I adored her. She was smart, wickedly funny, and authentic ~ not a false bone in her body ~ a brilliant songwriter, with a distinct unique perspective, all heart and soul. It’ll be hard for me to carry on without her.”

Originally from Park Ridge, N.J., Margaret, known as Maggie, was the oldest of the three sisters. She and middle sister Terre began performing as a duo in the late ’60s, with Maggie writing most of their original material. They sang on Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon album and subsequently recorded their debut, Seductive Reasoning, after which youngest sister Suzzy joined the group.

Watch the Roches performing their autobiographical “We”

Maggie Roche in her later years (Photo from the Roches’ Facebook page)

The group’s big break came in 1979 when they signed with Warner Bros. Records and released their self-titled debut as a trio, produced by Robert Fripp of King Crimson. The album came at a time when a new wave of singer-songwriters was gaining traction and did well on the radio. A quirky sense of humor and the trio’s austerity and no-frills approach to harmony made them instant darlings of the neo-folk set. Phoebe Snow’s cover of their song “The Married Men” (which she performed on Saturday Night Live with Linda Ronstadt) furthered their reputation and soon the Roches themselves appeared on the program.

The trio’s Christmas holiday concerts were a treat for audiences. In the late ’70s and into the ’80s, they were often held outdoors at New York’s Washington Square Park (for free) or at the nearby Bottom Line Cabaret.

The Roches continued to release albums on Warner Bros. into the mid-’80s, then cut a string of albums for MCA. They appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in November 1985, performing their song “Mr. Sellack,” from the debut. Their final release as a trio was Moonswept in 2007.

Maggie also released two duo albums with Suzzy, Zero Church (Red House, 2002) and Why The Long Face (Red House, 2004).

Watch the video for the Roches’ “Big Nuthin'”

Related: Musicians we lost in 2017

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  1. erlome
    #1 erlome 23 January, 2017, 13:30

    Even though Maggie hadn’t produced any new songs for many years, I am more saddened by her death than by any of the musical deaths of the past year. I love her beautiful melodies, touching and inventive lyrics, and the heart that she expressed in her songs. Her relatively obscure song “Feeling Is Mutual” stands with the best of the 60s girl group classics. I believe many of her songs will stand the test of time.

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