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The Roches (Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche) were a vocal group of three songwriting Irish-American sisters from Park Ridge, New Jersey, known for their "unusual" and "rich" harmonies, quirky lyrics, and casually comedic stage performances.
|Origin||New Jersey, United States|
|Past members||Maggie Roche|
The Roches were active as performers and recording artists from the mid-1970s through 2017, at various times performing as a trio and in pairs.
In the late 1960s, eldest sister Maggie (October 26, 1951 – January 21, 2017) and middle sister Terre (pronounced "Terry", born April 10, 1953) attended Park Ridge High School, but dropped out of school to tour as a duo. Maggie wrote most of the songs, with Terre contributing to a few. The sisters got a break when Paul Simon brought them in as backup singers on his 1973 #2 album There Goes Rhymin' Simon. They got his assistance (along with an appearance by The Oak Ridge Boys) on their only album as a duo, Seductive Reasoning (1975).
Reviewing Seductive Reasoning in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau said, "Female singing duos must function as mutual support groups; last time a women's sensibility this assured, relaxed, and reflective made it to vinyl was Joy of Cooking. These folkies manque are a little flat here, a little arch there, but in general the shoe fits; no ideological feminism, but plenty of consciousness."
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. Terre was now writing songs as well, and by the time of their first album as a trio, The Roches (1979), Suzzy had also begun writing. Robert Fripp produced the album. 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 continued to make isolated appearances individually and as a group, mostly in and around New York City.
Maggie had an "unusual" contralto voice – "almost a baritone." Terre provides a soprano that brackets the upper range of the sisters, while Suzzy fills in the middle range. While touring, the sisters accompanied themselves with guitars and keyboards, occasionally with additional musicians.
Brother David is also a singer-songwriter with his own solo album, and has often backed up the trio on their recordings. Maggie's son, Felix McTeigue, has recorded three albums (one with his group Filo). Suzzy's daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche, has also contributed vocals on the Roches' and McTeigue's albums, and in 2007 she produced an EP of her own, 8 Songs, followed by 8 More in 2008 and tours opening for acts such as Amos Lee and the Indigo Girls. Lucy has released three full-length albums: "Lucy" in 2010, "There's a Last Time for Everything" in 2013, and "Little Beast" in 2018. Her father is Loudon Wainwright III, and she is the half-sister of singers Martha and Rufus Wainwright.
The majority of Roches songs were written by the three sisters, whether individually, in every combination, or collaborating with other songwriters. They also recorded their own arrangements of songs by a variety of New York folk artists, as well as a few covers of famous songs. Their three-part arrangement of the four-part "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah, featured on Keep On Doing (1982), is well regarded in a cappella circles.
Maggie and Terre RocheEdit
- Seductive Reasoning (Columbia, 1975)
- I Gave My Love a Kerry (Earth Rock Wreckerds, 2004)
- The Roches (Warner, 1979)
- Nurds (Warner, 1980)
- Keep On Doing (Warner, 1982)
- Another World (Warner, 1985)
- No Trespassing (Real Live Records, 1986)
- Speak (MCA, 1989)
- We Three Kings (MCA, 1990)
- A Dove (MCA, 1992)
- Will You Be My Friend? (Baby Boom, 1994)
- Can We Go Home Now (Rykodisc, 1995).
- The Collected Works of the Roches (Rhino/Warner, 2003)
- Moonswept (429 Records, 2007)
- Rhino HiFive: The Roches (Rhino/Warner, 2007)
- Holy Smokes (Red House, 1997)
- Songs from an Unmarried Housewife and Mother, Greenwich Village, USA (Red House, 2000)
- The Sound of a Tree Falling (Earth Rock Wreckerds, 1998)
- Imprint (Earth Rock Wreckerds, 2015)
Suzzy and Maggie RocheEdit
- Zero Church (Red House, 2002)
- Why The Long Face (Red House, 2004)
Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright RocheEdit
- Fairytale and Myth (2013)
- Mud and Apples (2016)
Terre Roche, Sidiki Conde and Marlon Cherry (as Afro-Jersey)Edit
- Afro-Jersey (2013)
- There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973). Maggie and Terre are credited on "Was a Sunny Day" on Paul Simon's second solo album.
- Saturday Night Live (1979). The Roches were the musical guest on November 17, 1979 , singing "Bobby's Song" and their a cappella "Hallelujah Chorus".
- Exposure (1979), a Robert Fripp album featuring vocals by Terre.
- Soundstage (1983). The Roches were the featured group in one episode of this televised music series.
- The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (November 20, 1985 ), The Roches performed "Mr. Sellack" and "Another World".
- Songs from Liquid Days (1986). The Roches are featured in two songs in this collection of music composed by Philip Glass.
- Crossing Delancey (1988), starring Amy Irving. Suzzy played Marilyn, a friend of Isabelle (Irving). The Roches provided several songs for the soundtrack. One of the songs that was featured in the film, Nocturne, is also featured on the group's 1989 album Speak. An earlier arrangement of their cover of Come Softly to Me is featured on their album Another World.
- Stay Awake (1988). The Roches contributed to this tribute album.
- Tiny Toon Adventures, episode "New Character Day" (February 20, 1991 ). The Roches appropriately played a trio of singing roaches called "The Roches."
- Princesses (1991). The trio performs the short-lived TV series' theme song "Someday My Prince Will Come".
- A Weekend in the Country (1994). The trio play themselves, performing "Pregnant Pause" at a concert.
- The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure (December 1994). The band wrote the songs "Peaceful Valley", "Eggs" and "You're One of Us Now".
- A Family Concert (K-tel VHS, 1995). Includes performances by The Roches and The Music Workshop for Kids.
- Anthem (Intersound, 1996), by the Desolation Angels, an über-group consisting of The Roches, Karla DeVito, Kit Hain, Deborah Berg, the Blister Sisters, and Jane Kelly Williams.
- Christmas Songs (One Voice/Satellites Records, 1996), by the Carolling Carollers, another über-group consisting of The Roches, Ilana Iguana, Margaret Dorn, Libby Mclaren, and Bonnie Mann.
- Tracey Takes On..., episode "Music" (April 30, 1997 ).
- Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro (Astor Place Records, 1997) - "Wedding Bell Blues".
- What's That I Hear?: The Songs of Phil Ochs (Sliced Bread Records, 1998) - "The Bells" (Poem by Edgar Allan Poe adapted & set to music by Phil Ochs).
- Live at the World Café: Volume 9 (1999) - "Hammond Song"
- Moms That Cook (Baby Boom, 1999), by The Music Workshop for Kids. Suzzy produced as well as performed on this album by various artists.
- Rites of Passage, fourth album by the Atlanta, Georgia duo Indigo Girls. Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy sing backing vocals on "Virginia Woolf" and "Airplane".
- Nod to Bob: An Artist's Tribute to Bob Dylan on His 60th Birthday (Red House, 2001). Suzzy and Maggie perform "Clothes Line Saga" from The Basement Tapes.
- Some Assembly Required (Shanachie, 2002), by the Four Bitchin' Babes. Suzzy was one of the latter-day Babes in this rotating-membership pop-folk group founded by Christine Lavin.
- Endless Highway: The Music of The Band (429 Records/SLG Music/EMI, 2007). The Roches perform the Band classic "Acadian Driftwood".
- Please Give (2010). The Roches sing "No Shoes" by Paranoid Larry.
- Amen & Goodbye (2016). Suzzy appears on the songs "I Am Chemistry," "Half Asleep," and "Gerson's Whistle" on the fourth album by the Brooklyn indie trio Yeasayer.
Other musical associationsEdit
- Cocks, Jay (May 7, 1979). "Valentines from the Danger Zone". Time. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
She and Terre performed them first in the family living room in Park Ridge, N.J., then later on the back of a flat-bed truck in nearby shopping centers for the benefit of a local politician and the glory of the Democratic Party.
- "folkville-introduction". Myweb.tiscali.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-21.
- "The Roches' Maggie Roche Dead at 65". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
- Karas, Matty. "'Uncool' Roches finally fitting into the music scene", Asbury Park Press, June 20, 1991. Accessed December 9, 2017. "Terre Roche wasn't one of the cool kids at Park Ridge High School in the late 1960s.... She and Maggie sang together from a young age, with Maggie teaching Terre the harmony parts to songs. When they were in high school, their father, who lived in Greenwich Village before they were born and entertained them with stories about those days, drove them into the Village to sing in hootenannies at clubs such as the Gaslight and Kettle of Fish."
- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: R". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 12, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
- ""The Roches" (home page)". Roches official website. Retrieved 2007-01-21.
- Saperstein, Pat (22 January 2017). "Maggie Roche, Singer With Neo-Folk Trio The Roches, Dies at 65". variety.com. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- Pareles, Jon (21 January 2017). "Maggie Roche, Who Harmonized With Her Singing Sisters, Dies at 65". nytimes.com. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- "Dave Roche: Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- "David Roche: Songs". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- "David Roche: Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- "Filo: Hoi Polloi". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- Hartenbach, Brett. "Review: Felix McTeigue". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- "Lucy Roche: Songs". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- "Lucy Roche: Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- "Amos Lee with Lucy Wainwright Roche Highline Ballroom". New York Cool. July 14, 2008.
- Joshua Elioseff (April 16, 2010). "Photo essay: Indigo Girls, Lucy Wainwright Roche @ the Boulder Theater". Reverb.
- "Lucy Wainwright Roche | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-07-14.