January 21, 2017 – Maggie Roche was born on October 26, 1951 in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Together with her sister Terre, she dropped out of Park Ridge High School to tour as a duo in the late sixties. Maggie wrote most of the songs, with Terre contributing to a few. The sisters got a big real break when Paul Simon brought them in as backup singers on his 1973 #2 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. In return they got his support and an appearance by the Oakridge Boys, when they recorded their only album as a duo in 1975 titled Seductive Reasoning.
A year later their youngest sister Suzzy completed the Irish singer/songwriting trio The Roches. Maggie was their main songwriter in the beginning as they became increasingly known for their unusual harmonies, quirky lyrics and comedic stage presence.
Around this time, they parlayed bartending jobs at famous Greenwich Village folk venue Gerde’s Folk City into stage appearances, an experience they commemorated in their song, “Face Down at Folk City” (from Another World, 1985). It was here that they met many of their future singing and songwriting collaborators.
They performed in clubs and on the streets of New York, sometimes dressed as living Christmas trees, and among those who saw them perform was experimental minded King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, who produced their self-titled album “The Roches” in 1979, on which Fripp contributed with his distinctive electric guitar to “The Hammond Song” and helped the group connect with a broader audience of new wave fans.
Maggie’s “The Married Men” from this album was eventually to become the biggest hit of the songwriting trio — not for them, but for Phoebe Snow. After Snow and Linda Ronstadt performed the song in a duet on Saturday Night Live, the Roches were invited themselves to perform on the show a few months later in 1979 at the behest of Paul Simon. They did two songs, both unreleased at the time, “Bobby’s Song” and “The Hallelujah Chorus”.
Throughout the 1980s, The Roches continued to release their music to small audiences, little or no air play, and only modest record sales. A 1983 episode of the PBS concert series Soundstage was devoted to an hourlong performance by the trio, and they appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in November 1985, where they performed their song “Mr. Sellack”. In 1990, they returned to their Christmas-caroling roots with the release of the 24-track We Three Kings, which included the a cappella “Star of Wonder”, written by Terre. After another pop album (A Dove, 1992), they recorded an entire album of children’s songs entitled Will You Be My Friend?, featuring a song by brother David and various young backup singers, including Suzzy’s daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche.
After a tour interrupted by the death of their father, The Roches released Can We Go Home Now (1995), the last original recording they released as a trio until 2007.
In 1997, the sisters formally put their group on long-term hold. They continued to work on solo projects and often collaborated on albums and performances. Terre teaches guitar workshops and has released a solo album. Suzzy, who has acted on the stage and in several movies, released two of her own albums and two with Maggie, with whom she has toured. All three sisters periodically participated in New York-area events. At the end of 2005, the three Roches (with brother Dave) reunited for a short but highly successful holiday tour. Several more appearances in the U.S. and Canada took place in 2006–07, and in March 2007, after a 12-year hiatus, The Roches released a new studio album, Moonswept. Following the tour for Moonswept, the Roches announced that they would no longer be touring, although they have made isolated appearances individually and as a group, mostly in and around New York City.
On January 21, 2017, Maggie Roche died of cancer at the age of 65.