Maggie Roche, the eldest of three sisters in the folk-pop vocal trio The Roches, died Jan. 21 at age of 65, following a long struggle with cancer.
“She was a private person, too sensitive and shy for this world, but brimming with life, love, and talent,” Maggie’s sister Suzzy noted in a Facebook post confirming the sad news. “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.”
The Roches launched their career as a trio in the 1970s and continued performing together until the release of their final album, Moonswept, in 2007 — with a hiatus between 1997 and 2005. Prior to Suzzy, the youngest of the three sisters, joining them, Maggie (born Oct. 26, 1951) had formed a duo with middle sister, Terre, in their hometown of Park Ridge, New Jersey. They played the New York City club scene, as well as on Paul Simon’s 1973 album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, and released one album (Seductive Reasoning) in 1975. National tours and television appearances followed Suzzy joining the group and the trio releasing its self-entitled debut album, The Roches, in 1979. Maggie – who was known for her distinctive, deep contralto voice and her songwriting chops (“Hammond Song” and “The Married Men” — later a hit for Phoebe Snow –on that debut album, among others) and Suzzy also released a couple of albums together as a duo in 2002 and 2004.
Editor’s Note: Although I did not know Maggie Roche, I enjoyed seeing her and her sisters perform a number of times over the years — primarily at The Bottom Line in NYC’s Greenwich Village — and am very saddened by her death.