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(David Ponci)

Highland 1011

No. 5    January 23, 1961




Pictures on Rosie are a rarity so, most fans don’t know what she looked like.   But from the sound of that

high-pitched voice on  “Angel Baby,” Rosalie Hamlin was probably as thin as a barber’s pole, with a 16-inch

waist, inch-long eyelashes, and a stiff beehive hairdo up to there.   Here was seemingly a sad,  bad girl–or

so us teen males hoped–who just needed a boy, a beer, and the submarine races, and everything would be

all right.


In the late ’80s, Rosie resurfaced with a new band, the L.A. Rhythm Section, and a story to tell.   She was

born July 21, 1945 in Klamath Falls, Oregon, raised  in Alaska till age 11 when her family moved to San

Diego.   As a pre-teen she taught herself to play piano and to dash off songs.


In 1960, when 14, Rosie met four older guys with a future to mesh with hers.    “They weren’t yet a band

called the Originals,” she told DISCoveries‘ Ed Wittenberg.   “They were just guys from the other side of

town who played music with a couple of friends of mine.”     There was sax man Alfred Barrett, bassist

Tony Gomez, guitarist David Ponci, lead guitarist Noah Tafolla and drummer Carl von Goodat.   Rosie

and the boys rehearsed a few numbers, then approached Highland Records about recording  some  of

their  material.


History happened in an old airplaine hanger converted into a studio of sorts in San Marcos, California.

Rosie had scribbled the words to the unit’s first and penultimate single as a poem in her notebook, then

crafted a melody based on the chord changes to “Heart And Soul.”     She sings “Angel Baby” in one of the

skimpiest voices  to ever grace the Billboard charts, with the Originals pounding a sparse and primitive

backdrop.    At moments, the drummer seems to forget what track he’s playing on, the record is flawed with

flubs, and the sound quality of the recording is   poor–but “Angel Baby” is undoubtedly one of rock’n’roll’s

greatest rockaballad moments.


In explanation, Rosie told Wittenberg, “Alfred had to stay home that day to do the yard work for his

parents.   So, Tony who was the bass player had to play the sax line.”     To make matters, seemingly,

worse, Rosie had a bad cold.   “We did it over and over…  We must have done 30-some takes; it was an

all day deal.”


Before the now-classic was even issued, the group disbanded;  Rosie, in particular, was bothered that

Highland Records had credited  Dave Ponci as “Angel Baby”‘s writer.   “We were together only a summer,

if even that,” she told Wittenberg.

A follow-up,  “Angel From Above,”  was put out by the label;  then “We’ll Have A Chance.”   Both went

unnoticed  by radio programmers and consequentially, the public.    Jackie Wilson, however, did take

notice, and introduced Rosie to his manager, Nat Taranapol.    Nat got Rosie a recording contract with

one of the big-time labels, his label, Brunswick Records.    Aside from boyfriend Noal, the  Originals

were not part of the deal, and they apparently vanished from the face of this  planet.


In place of the crudities the Originals had supplied were the lush strings and flubless instrumentation

of the Dick Jacobs Orchestra; featuring the sax of legend Plas Johnson and keyboard great ERNIE

FREEMAN.    Two of Rosie’s self-penned tunes, engulfed in the finest sounds money could buy,  were

issued, as by “Rosie, formerly of Rosie & the Originals”; both failed miserably.   An album  appeared,

but sales were minor-league.


“The band on that  album [Lonely Blue Nights] kind of swallowed me up,”   Rosie admitted to Sh –

Boom.   “They wanted to duplicate that ‘Angel Baby’ sound, but they were too professional.   The  saxophonist tried to get  that off-key sound, and it sounded terrible–like he was trying to play off-key.  Plus, the company didn’t push the album.    I think it was  a tax write-off or something.”


Two further solo singles were issued, but record-buyers’ interest was apparently elsewhere.    Brunswick set the girl free.


Rosie and Originals’ guitarist Noah Tafolla were married for three and a half years.     Their off-spring,

Debbie and Joey, are full-grown; the latter is a guitar teacher.     Rosie has remanded in the music biz

through all the years, with the exception of 1979 to 1983 when she was an art teacher in Colorado.


Kathy Young & the Innocents, of “A Thousand Stars,” and bluesman Charles Brown recorded remakes of

Rosie’s ode.     Her favorite rendition, however, is by John Lennon, produced by Phil Spector in the ’70s

and issued posthumously in 1986.    On the Menlove album, John’s voice can be heard:   “This is one of my

all-time favorite songs…  My love to Rosie wherever she may be.”


Rosie and the Originals never received a penny from “Angel Baby,” nor any of the other  Highland

recordings–until September 1994, when a fiancial settlement was reached and the masters of their

recordings were returned to them.


“It looks like that song will be around longer than I will,” she told Sh-Boom.