Rosie Hamlin, the lead singer of the early-60’s group Rosie and the Originals, died on Thursday at the age of 71.
One of Hamlin’s children announced her death on the group’s official webpage:
Very Saddened to say that my mom, Rosalie Hamlin passed away today March 30th, 2017. She was 71 and passed in her sleep. She didn’t perform anymore, and had removed herself from the music scene because of health concerns. She did still paint and tended a very lovely garden. She will be greatly missed by so many. Thank you all for your wishes and time and kind words. It always meant a lot to her. God bless.
Hamlin was born on July 21, 1945 in Klamath Falls, OR, moving often during her youth to Anchorage, AK, National City, CA and, finally, San Diego where she graduated from Mission Bay High School.
From a musical background, she joined an adult country band at the age of 13 after telling them she was 16 during the audition. At 14, she started writing her own songs, including a song called Angel Baby and, at 15, took up the piano.
One day during the summer of 1960, Rosie, her family and a few friends drove out into the desert to a small recording studio in San Marcos where they recorded Angel Baby and a b-side. Initially, no record company was interested in the record but, after getting the music department manager to play the song at the Kresge’s in San Diego, a representative from Highland Records heard it and acquired the recording for their label.
Soon, Allen Freed was playing the song multiple times per day and Angel Baby started to take off, eventually peaking at number 5 in the U.S. in January of 1961. Unfortunately for Hamlin, she was taken advantage of by music executives and her original contract showed that Angel Baby was written by David Ponci and it took a number of year’s for Hamlin to get her name officially as the songwriter.
Rosie and the Originals released two more singles on Highland, neither of which were hits, before Jackie Wilson and his manager suggested that Hamlin come to New York. She, along with guitarist Noah Tafolla, signed with Brunswick Records and released two singles, one of which, Lonely Blue Nights, also written by Hamlin, went to number 66.
Hamlin and Tafolla married and, in 1963, Rosie retired from music to spend time with their family. She made comebacks in 1969 and again in 1973 when she recorded one single for Wax World Records. She had also continued to perform throughout the rest of her life.
In 1969, John Lennon named Hamlin one of his favorite singers and recorded a version of Angel Baby for his album Rock ‘n’ Roll which did not make the final track listing although it has appeared on later box sets. In 1991, the singer Angelica took Angel Baby back to 29 on the Billboard Hot 100.