Hamlin shot to fame as the lead singer of the group, who found their greatest success with the 1960 single ‘Angel Baby’. The singer wrote the song aged just 14 while still an independent artist, and, despite the song’s timeless quality, was initially unable to find a label willing to distribute the single.
“We had trouble landing a record deal,” Hamlin recalled in her online biography. “We couldn’t even get an appointment with any of the labels. So we took one of our 45’s to Kresge’s Department Store in San Diego – they had listening booths in their music section where you could preview records before you bought them. We asked the manager to play our record and see if he could sell it in his store.”
A distributor from Highland Records then heard the song and took control of the single’s masters, handing Hamlin the songwriting credits as she was the oldest member of the group. The song peaked in the top five of the US Hot 100 chart in January 1961.
John Lennon later called ‘Angel Baby’ one of his “all-time favourite songs” and would go on to cover the track (where he said “Send my love to Rosie, wherever she may be” in its introduction).
The Originals disbanded soon after the release of ‘Angel Baby’, and Hamlin left the music industry in 1963 after recording an album with her husband Noah Tafolla.