Maggie Roche, a member of family vocal group the Roches, has died at age 65. Pitchfork points us to a Facebook note from sister and bandmate Suzzy confirming that Maggie passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Suzzy wrote, “She was a private person, too sensitive and shy for this world, but brimming with life, love, and talent,” later continuing, “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.”
The Roches grew up in Park Ridge, New Jersey near New York City area and got their start singing Christmas carols, a pastime they would return to often throughout their career. After singing backup for Paul Simon on 1973’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Maggie and her sister Terre Roche signed to Columbia as a duo and released debut Seductive Reasoning in 1975. Suzzy later joined them to form the Roches, and they released their Robert Fripp-produced first album as a trio in 1979. Their final album together, Moonswept, was released in 2007.
The Roches specialized in folk songs with gorgeous multi-part vocal harmonies, as exemplified on Maggie’s exceptional composition “Hammond Song.” Maggie, a contralto, handled the low end vocals in their performances. Another Maggie-penned Roches song, “The Married Men,” became a hit for Phoebe Snow in the late ’70s. Fundraisers to fight Maggie’s breast cancer had been ongoing.
Read Suzzy Roche’s full note about her sister below.
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.