'Angel Baby' singer dies; classic hit covered by Lennon

AP News
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Posted: Apr 03, 2017 6:50 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — The singer of the 1960s hit "Angel Baby," a song covered by artists such as John Lennon and Linda Ronstadt, has died.

Rose Hamlin, the 71-year-old lead singer of Rosie and the Originals, died in her sleep on March 30, according to a post by her daughter, Debbie Cray, on the late performer's website.

Hamlin was born Rosalie Hamlin on July 21, 1945, in Oregon. She was raised in Alaska before moving to California when she was a preteen.

Hamlin was 14 years old when she penned "Angel Baby," a song that Lennon would later call one of his all-time favorites.

Cray said Hamlin hadn't performed in years over concerns for her health, but she had taken up tending a "lovely garden," according to her post on the website.

Cray said in an interview with The Associated Press that her mother was a nature and animal lover who kept chickens and enjoyed fishing, planting trees and camping. She had a great sense of humor and loved playing pranks on people, Cray said.

"I think she really enjoyed just being Rosie the mom and grandma. I think after a while like that was just a separate life," Cray said of her mother's music career.

Hamlin wrote in her autobiography online that she penned "Angel Baby" about a teenage love and struggled for years to get credit for the song after a man was listed as its writer.

"We were musicians and not businesspeople. We got burned like so many of our peers in those days," Hamlin wrote.

Her son, John Sanders, said his mother told him about the difficulties of the music industry. "She really had to work a lot harder to get the same recognition," she said.

Hamlin also wrote about her pride in many of her accomplishments, like being in an exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, about one-hit-wonders. Hamlin wrote that she was the first Latina to be on that list, and she also was the first Latina to appear on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" show.

Hamlin lived in New Mexico at the time of her death. She left behind Cray, Sanders, and son Joey Tafolla, along with four grandchildren.