Women Music March 2021 – Day 30 – The Roches

File:The Roches (1980 publicity photo).jpg

The Roches in 1980.  From l-r:  Suzzy, Maggie, and Terre

The Roches (Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche) were a vocal group of three songwriting Irish-American sisters from Park Ridge, New Jersey, United States. They were known for their “unusual” and “rich” harmonies, quirky lyrics, and casually comedic stage performances. 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 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.

Later in the 1970s youngest sister Suzzy (rhymes with “fuzzy”, born September 29, 1956) joined the group to form the Roches trio.

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 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.

Discography:
Maggie and Terre: 2 albums in 1975 and 2004
The Roches (trio): 13 albums from 1979 – 2007
Suzzy solo: 2 albums in 1997 and 2000
Terre: 2 albums 1998 and 2015
Suzzy and Maggie: 2002 and 2004
Suzzy and Lucy Wainwright Roche (Suzzy’s daughter): 3 albums from 2013 – 2020
Terre Roche, Sidiki Conde and Marlon Cherry (as Afro-Jersey): 1 album in 2013

Other things to share:
On January 21, 2017, Maggie Roche died from breast cancer at the age of 65. In a statement on Facebook, Suzzy wrote that Maggie “was a private person, too sensitive and shy for this world, but brimming with life, love, and talent. 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.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed the Roches among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

Terre Roche continues to perform publicly in New York City, and since 2016 has led a “Sunset Singing Circle” at Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan under the auspices of the Parks Department.

Source: wikipedia

Trent McDonald commented on the post and said:

Hallelujah Chorus from the third album was also a big hit in that it has been used in a lot of movies and is -the- three voice arrangement that even major choirs now use.

I’ve added it as a bonus track for these lovely voices.  Enjoy!  And thank you, Trent!

21 Comments Add yours

  1. pendantry says:

    Suzzy in that pic you offer up top is so clearly looking at ‘me’ (well, the camera) that it makes me wonder what Maggie and Terre are looking at.

    That video clip you offer as a sample of their work makes me want to hear more. It’s sad to hear that some of their compositions are lost forever, though of course all things must pass.

    PS Oi, msjadeli’ check yer spam folder, I’ve sent you a missive using your contact form!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I really like that pic of them and I have often wondered why everyone else in a pic looks one way but one doesn’t. I think you see now that I saw your email messages and yes they were in my spam folder. Thanks for the heads-up as if you hadn’t sent this I probably would have missed them (even though I didn’t see this first 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hanspostcard says:

    I saw them on SNL- and got their album the next week. Interesting group. We are Terri and Maggie and Suzzy- we spell our name R O C H E.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      I know they exist now which is more than I did before. Cool that you saw them on SNL.

      Like

  3. Liam says:

    I really, really like The Roches’ 1979 debut album, and found the rest of their output kind of meh. But one great album is still an amazing accomplishment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Good to know, and I agree to have one great album would be awesome!

      Like

  4. trentpmcd says:

    Great band. I disagree slightly with Liam and say first and third, the two albums Robert Fripp produced, are great. In fact, I think I like the third better than the first. I also really like the Christmas album, one of my favorite holiday CDs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Glad you like them, Trent. :::making notes::: Will see which ones the library have.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. trentpmcd says:

        Google “on the road to fairfax county”. Not my favorite, btu perhaps their biggest hit (from the third album). their Hallelujah Chorus from the third alum was also a big hit in that it has been used in a lot of movies and is -the- three voice arrangement that even major choirs now use.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          They sound great! I’m tacking that hallelujah onto the bottom of my post as a bonus track 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. trentpmcd says:

            They’re great 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  5. These ladies definitely knew how to harmonize. I had never heard of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      And being sisters their voices meshed so well!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. memadtwo says:

    I’ve always been ambivalent about them, although I do like their Christmas album. They tend to be too precious in a lot of their songs. Nice harmonies though. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Ambivalent is my status with them right now. Need to listen to more.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    I was going to feature one of their songs before…love the voices…they sounded really well together. I saw them on a Cavett show not long ago…well an old one of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Always blew my mind that Robert Fripp was involved. Very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Who is he, CB?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He was one of the founders of King Crimson. It’s pretty adventurous music and not the same genre as The Roches. He was involved with Bowies Heroes album. He is a very cool guy. One of my favorite musicians.
        His wife and him have been doing these goofy videos of different songs. Its pretty funny Google him and you’ll find the videos. I’m a Fripp Freak.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          I just listened to Metallica and Bowies Heroes. His wife looks like a Playboy Bunny! I won’t hold that against her, she sounds good 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think they are really messing around. Shes playing that up. I think shes a musician also an Like I said about Robert he is a different guy. He was always so stoic (Librarian) and serious so to see this side come out is cool. I think his wife was in “Quadrophenia’. heroes is my favorite Bowie record. Fripp and Eno made it that way.

            Liked by 1 person

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