Rosie & The Originals – Angel Baby 1961 (Some sources list the year as 1960.)
This is the song with the off-key sax lead, you can hear the version with the sax mixed out below. Also there’s a version of John Lennon’s Angel Baby.
When this romantic song purred from the push-button, AM car radio of my ’58 Chevy Impala in the 60s it was almost like an angel’s voice was emanating from some far away star.
Although (overly) simplistic in it’s four-chord-progression form with just (off-key) sax, bass (2) guitars and drums, the song was captivating, maybe in part because of its primitiveness. Maybe the appeal was partly due to the fact that she was just about exactly my age. Even though the song was amateurishly produced with many stand-out mistakes, such as off-key instruments, missed beats and notes; the scratchy final recording of this little record flew and romanticized nights throughout the country.
This makes me think of Link Wray’s RUMBLE. Wray said that the song was pretty much “an accident” which included a broken speaker. Read about RUMBLE’S geneses here.
From Rosie’s Official Website:
“I was born Rosalie Hamlin on July 21st, 1945 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I attended Denali Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska and Ira Harlison Elementary in National City, California. I then attended Granger Jr. High and O’Farrell Jr. High, SweetWater High in National City, and Mission Bay High in San Diego. Because I was always traveling, I had a tutor and didn’t graduate in regular fashion. My home life growing up in Alaska was a lot of fun. We always seemed to be swimming or doing something water related. I always enjoyed horseback riding, ice skating, skiing, mountain climbing, fishing and target practicing.”
“I came from a musical background. My father played guitar, wrote music and sang. My grandfather played banjo, harmonica and sang. They had a Vaudeville type background. I absorbed a lot of that influence. I can remember being 4 or 5 years old, standing on an old box in the yard pretending it was a stage.”
“We came to California from Alaska quite often to visit my Grandmother. I had lots of Aunts and Uncles living there and we’d make many trips along the Alaskan Highway to visit them. Finally, my father decided we would move to California. We bought a house in National City, California. I didn’t want to leave Alaska, having relatives and friends there. I also had very fond memories of my time in Alaska” Read more about Rosalie Hamlin – Rosie And The Originals
Here’s the song without the sax lead:
From History of Rock.com
“Angel Baby” was their first and only Top 40 hit. Lead singer/songwriter Rosie Hamlin was only 15 when this song was recorded in an abandoned aircraft hanger in San Diego. Features one of the most incredibly off-key sax solo of any song of this era. Thousands of kids identified with the the juvenile sounding vocalist Rosie Hamlin and “Angel Baby” went on to become a minor classic.
Rosalie Hamlin was born July 21, 1945, in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Her father, Harry Hamlin appeared in vaudeville. Her mother was Ofelia Juana Mendez. Her family moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where she began school. At the age of 11 when her parents moved to San Diego, where Rosie began appearing in talent shows and local ballrooms. Her musical background was in the [sic]Pentacostal Church. As a preteen, Rosie taught herself to play piano and write songs.
At the age of fourteen she decided she needed a band and asked her ex-babysitter to introduce her to five older guys, not yet the Originals, from the other side of town who played music with some of her friends. They were Alfred Barrett saxophone, Tony Gomez bass, David Ponci guitar, Noah Tafolla lead guitar, Tony Gomez (bass)and Carl von Goodat drums. They played in the Hamlin’s garage until they were ready to play house parties and USO parties.
It all happened in an old airplane hanger that had been converted into a recording studio in San Diego suburb of San Marcos in 1960. There Rosie wrote the words to the group’s first single in her notebook, then crafted a melody based on chord changes to “Heart and Soul.” Saxophone player Alfred had to stay at home to cut the grass, so Tom was given a quick lesson on the sax .With a skimpy voice Rosie sang “Angel Baby” with the Originals providing a sparse and primitive back up. With the drummer seemingly forgetting what track he is playing on, flawed with flubs, and poor sound quality “Angel Baby” is undoubtedly one of rock and roll’s greatest moments
More from The History of Rock.com
John Lennon’s version of Angel Baby: