Maggie Roche, the folk-rock singer-songwriter who since the mid-1970s had performed and recorded as a trio and in pairs with her two sisters, has died.
Roche died of cancer, according to a statement posted online Saturday (Jan. 21) by her sister and bandmate Suzzy Roche. She was 65.
Growing up in Park Ridge, New Jersey, eldest sister Maggie formed a duo with middle sister Terre, and while touring, they caught the attention of Paul Simon, who brought them in as backup singers for his hit 1973 album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.
In 1975, they released an album of their own. Shortly after that, youngest sister Suzzy joined to form The Roches trio. The voices of this threesome blended majestically, with Maggie’s rich contralto balanced by Terre’s soprano and Suzzy filling in the mid-range.
They played Greenwich Village folk venues and, in 1979, released the well-received The Roches, the first of their dozen albums as a trio, and were booked on Saturday Night Live.
With “We,” the first song of that debut album, they charmingly introduced themselves, with acoustic guitar backup, to the listening world:
“We are Maggie and Terre and Suzzy/ Maggie and Terre and Suzzy Roche/ We don’t give out our ages, and we don’t give out our phone numbers/ Sometimes our voices give out. But not our ages and our phone numbers/ And as a point of interest, we spell our name R-O-C-H-E.”
Their final studio album, Moonswept, would be released in 2007. Maggie also recorded albums as a duo with sister Suzzy.
Maggie and her sisters would never be a big draw or huge sellers. But their unique sound and sensibility, plus their endearing quirkiness, was cherished by a devoted following over the decades.
The statement from Suzzy Roche, who, with Terre, survives her, describes their “dear, beautiful sister Maggie” as “a private person, too sensitive and shy for this world, but brimming with life, love and talent — a brilliant songwriter, with a distinct unique perspective, all heart and soul.”