The Roches were a vocal group of three songwriting Irish-American sisters; Maggie, Terre and Suzzy and were among contemporary folk music’s most endearing artists. From Park Ridge, New Jersey, they, known for their unusual and “rich” harmonies, quirky lyrics, and casually comedic stage performances.
As part of their final tour, The Roches played at Bearsville Theater, August 17, 2007, which featured as Episode 2 on our Bearsville Uncut series. Hear tracks including including We, Hammond Song, and their incredible acapella version of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’
After busking during their early years, the two eldest sisters Maggie and Terre began touring professionally and in 1970 got their break after meeting Paul Simon in 1970. They sang back up on his There Goes Rhymin’ Simon album and helped them get a contract with Columbia. Their debut album, ‘Seductive Reasoning’, followed in 1975, but went largely unnoticed. And for a time, they considered quitting the music business, even leaving New York to retreat to Louisiana. Eventually, they returned north, when at the same time Suzzy left college to join the group full-time and they became the trio we recognise today.
The Roches became a staple of the Greenwich Village folk circuit and received critical acclaim. In 1979, they signed to Warner Bros. to issue a self-titled LP produced by Robert Fripp earning acclaim for their exquisite harmonies. This LP also featured Tony Levin on bass (our Bearsville Uncut feature artist from April 19th) Their track ‘The Married Men’ later scored a successful cover by Phoebe Snow, but for the Roches itself it wasn’t a hit.
For their 1980’s Nurds LP, they changed direction, augmenting their basic folk sound with a rock rhythm section comprising former Television bassist Fred Smith and Patti Smith Group drummer Jay Dee Daugherty. Fripp returned to produce 1982’s Keep on Doing, a largely acoustic effort featuring cameos from members of King Crimson.
In 2003 Rhino/Warner Bros. released the Collected Works of the Roches compilation LP, prompting the trio to re-form after an 11-year hiatus for their 2007 LP Moonswept. They toured only sporadically thereafter, and sadly Maggie Roche died a decade later in January of 2017.