I Remember Rosie

It's Saturday night and after an extremely busy day on the car lot, I'm pooped. Network TV is airing re-runs of shows that they ran earlier in the week. So, I pick up my laptop (and headphones) and (please forgive my honesty) listen to some classic doo wop.

That's when I find "Rosie & The Originals" on You Tube.

It would be cruel to call Rosie a "One Hit Wonder." John Lennon told Life Magazine in a 1969 interview that Rosie Hamlin is his favorite female singer! He recorded "Angel Baby" for his  "Rock & Roll" album. (Not bad for a One Hit Wonder.) Led Zeppelin made reference to her in their Houses Of The Holy album liner notes.(...)
A little bit about Rosie. She was born in the Pacific Northwest, spending much of her youth in Alaska. She and her family moved to southern California where she attended Mission Bay HS in San Diego. When she was 13, she faked babysitting jobs to sing with a local band. She got the gig by auditioning over the phone! She also sang in a group with her cousins. She wrote "Angel Baby" when she was 14 years old! In the summer of 1960, she and her friends traveled from San Diego to San Marcos, CA where they recorded "Angel Baby." It wasn't really a recording studio. It was actually the corner of an old airplane hanger. They used a two track recorder. This meant that when somebody made a mistake, they had to "take it from the top." Rosie says that they did more than 30 "takes" before they got it right. Listening to the record, you'll notice a somewhat quirky (I'm being nice) sax solo. The saxophone player, Alfred Barrett, was unable to attend the recording session as he was forced to mow the lawn at home. (Alfred had a strict mother.) The lead guitar player, Noah Tafolla, had some experience with the sax, so...in a pinch...he taught the bass player, Tony Gomez, how to play the sax solo! Well, it kinda worked.

They had a record, but they didn't have a record label. They took a 45RPM of their song to Kresge's Department Store where Rosie convinced the manager in the record department to play the song. At that time, you could listen to a song, in booths, before you bought it.

The song caused a sensation among the teenagers, that day. A record promoter happened to be in the store which led to Rosie signing with Highland Records. The song was a hit, reaching #5 on Billboard's Hot 100 in December 1960. Legendary DJ Alan Freed would play this song 6 - 10 times every night on K-Day Radio!  It was also a hit in Canada on Zirkon Records and in the UK on London Records. Sounds like a Cinderella story, right? Well, not exactly. Rosie was only 15 years old. Credit for writing the song went to David Ponci - the oldest member of "Rosie The Originals." It took Rosie years to get this straightened out. This means that Rosie lost a ton of money.

The song was and is special. It is universally known. As a former radio DJ who has played crap (relatively speaking) for years, "Angel Baby" is a crisp, raw, simple, real, emotional masterpiece. Yes, the recording has flaws, but when Rosie sang that song, she was singing directly to me....and you, and any guy who was listening. She was singing for any girl who shared similar feelings.

Rosie still sings the song - 50 years later. This is a video of her singing "Angel Baby" in 2002.

Hell of a song! Thanks, Rosie.


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