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Angel Baby by Rosie & the Originals

Album: released as a singleReleased: 1960Charted:
5
  • Rosie Hamlin wrote this when she was 14 years old. It began as a poem about a boyfriend, and was based on "Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)" by The Penguins. Rosie had some experience as a singer with a local band, getting the job by telling them she was 16.
  • The appeal of the song rests in Rosie's bell-like vocals and the utter simplicity of both the lyrics and the single, repeated melodic line. The inexpert musicianship and unpolished recording quality contribute to its charm.
  • This made it to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1960. It remained on the charts for twelve weeks. It is listed as #34 on the 1961 Hot 100 for the year.
  • Immediately after writing this, Rosie certified-mailed herself a copy so that it would be legally dated, a wise move in view of the legal mess later created by Highland Records.
  • Many members of the Hamlin family were musically inclined. The Originals were a group of family friends who hung out and jammed at the house. They were Noah Tafolla, David Ponci, Tony Gomez, Carl Von Goodat and Alfred Barrett. Rosie later married Tafolla.
  • This was recorded on a two-track machine in an abandoned airline hangar which was being converted to a recording studio. Bass player Tony Gomez is on sax, because the sax player had to stay home and mow the lawn.
  • For publicity, the group went to Kresge's in San Diego and took advantage of a then-standard feature of variety stores - the preview or listening booth in the record department. They received permission to play this in the booths so teens shopping for records could hear it. The response was overwhelmingly positive. A scout for Highland Records was in the store and immediately offered them a contract.
  • Highland Records took possession of the master as a condition of the contract, and talked Rosie into allowing Ponci instead of herself to be named on the contract as "Angel Baby"'s composer. None of the promised royalties were paid, for this or any other recording the band made for Highland. Rosie got out of her Highland contract and signed with Brunswick. With Tafolla, she went to New York and recorded an LP, "Lonely Blue Nights," and performed with other Brunswick artists at the Brooklyn Paramount. Rosie won back the composer's rights to Angel Baby in 1961, but faced a series of court fights to obtain the royalties.
  • The B-side is "Give Me Love," in a completely different style, with vocals by Bluford Wade.
  • In a 1969 interview, John Lennon named Rosie as one of his favorite vocalists. He covered "Angel Baby" for his Rock & Roll album, but it wasn't released until 1986 on Menlove Avenue.
  • Rosie Hamlin has enjoyed a long, vital career in music. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. She also briefly worked as an art teacher. She has two children.
  • An amazing quote about this song has appeared on a number of websites. It is attributed to Mark Sten (of the Oblivion Seekers?) in "Rock Almanac" (which one of several books and blogs of that name is not specified). It describes the instrumentals as "generating a robot mantra devoid of embellishment or variation, the perfect underpinning for Rosie's piercing, disembodied-siren vocal. With 'Angel Baby,' rock had regressed as far as it could, some nameless dread loosed within the collective Top 40 mind had run its course and spent itself in a lost mournful wail. 'Angel Baby' was the final moonlit flowering of rock's medieval phase, paean to a purity and innocence no longer possible in the real world." (thanks, Ekristheh - Halath, for all above)
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Comments: 7

Saw Rosie at a post-911 concert in L. A. either late 01 or early 02. She had some of the "Originals" still with her. Talked at length with her sister, who said that life had not been too kind to her - marriage/health etc.
Rosie didn't seem to be too happy and was a no-show for the finale with the other performing legends like the drifters/coasters, etc. However, she sounded great and was just as entertaining as when I saw her as
a teenager while at Eagle Rock High School in the early 60s. At the time of induction, she was the only female Hispanic to be inducted into the R & R Hall of Fame. BTW, her sis gave me a record of her singing
"Angel Baby" completely in Spanish. Just as good as the english version. Worth getting if available for sale. Also, her greatest hits album is awesome. Almost all the songs are as good as Angel Baby. She is one of
the best pop music artists of all-time!
Bill - Las Vegas, Nv
Back in 1960, I was 13 and bought the single "Angel Baby." It was a huge hit with simple lyrics & catchy melody. I really loved humming it and singing it in the halls at high school, until some of my friends told me to quit---or they'd beat me to a pulp! Some kids used to think I was retarded because I went around singing this song in school. But really, I aint retarded. Really. Wow--the background on this hit is interesting. I didn't know that Rosie had loads of trouble with her record company. What scabs!! I never remembered their name (Highland??), but my 45 rpm single had a red label. In 1960, it was the first year I was allowed to buy records by my parents. They kept telling me they didn't want to learn that I'd been buying those smutty rock & roll sex songs. So right away I went downtown and started searching for those "smutty rock & roll sex songs!!" Well, I didn't find any. My first record to buy in 1960 was "The Twist" by Chubby Checker. Then I bought some sappy sounding record by Ricky Nelson that I can't remember. Never did like most of his songs, but I took a chance on buying that one. And it was a bad decision! Then I got this one-----Angel Baby. I still love it when it's played on the oldies radio. Don't hear it too often even on those stations. Does anyone know what Rosie is up to these days? Or if she's even alive? I guess the old girls would be close to her 70s by now?Bubblesk - Memphis, Tn
these facts are inacurate angel baby was sang by a little girl younger than 14 and the song was written for her by her uncle and the family was the band who played for her they were native to new mexico (whitch is in the united states for those who didn't know)Sd - Ll, Nm
Keep looking in thrift shop bins for "Angel Baby/ Give Me Love". It still turns up. I've got at least two copies somewhere. Meanwhile, I'll create an entry for "Give Me Love" and post the lyrics.Ekristheh - Halath, United States
Bluford Wade is my Dad. And other things that eople may not know about him is that he also co wrote several songs with james Brown The Godfather of SoulBluforte Wade - Milwaukee, Wi
Is it possible to get the B-side "Give me love" lyrics? I can't find it. Bluford Wade... amazing! What else about him?Georgia - Barcelona, Spain
All these facts about a song derided and disrespected by many DJ's even. I first became aware of this song when an old girlfriend sang it in my ear in my '65 Chevelle (Thanks Gina-Wherever you are...), and I thought it was tacky.
Coincidentally-a NY City DJ named Bob Shannon was playing it (1985 I should have mentioned), and mentioned how unliked it was by many.

I fell in love with it and still love it today.

As I was going to say; all these facts; to me-"It's just like heaven..."
Francis - Long Island, Ny