Editor’s note: Fibromyalgia AWARE magazine, published by the National Fibromyalgia Association, ran a cover story on Rosie Hamlin in the December 2004 – March 2005 issue, Volume 8, which inspired the following article. To obtain a copy of Fibromyalgia AWARE magazine and/or to subscribe, please call (714) 921-0150, or visit http://www.fmaware.org/magazine.html
What’s after ‘Angel Baby’?
Singer Rosie Hamlin paints, campaigns against fibromyalgia
Jessica Dyer News-Bulletin Staff Writer; email@example.com
Los Lunas — More than four decades after her sweet, teenage love song “Angel Baby” earned her an appearance on “American Bandstand,” the music of Rosalie “Rosie” Hamlin can still make an impact.
A lot has changed since 1961 when Hamlin and her band, Rosie and the Originals, recorded the famous ballad in an old airplane hangar in California. “Angel Baby” went gold and had sold 4 million copies by 1965. John Lennon recorded a version of the song. Hamlin even opened a concert for the Rolling Stones.
The former teenage singing sensation who grew up in southern California has since been recognized by the City of Los Angeles for her “continued years of music and entertainment,” had a postal cancellation stamp made in her honor in West Covina, Calif., and had the City of National City (Calif.) proclaim March 28, 1996 “Rosalie ‘Rosie’ Hamlin Day.”
But it hasn’t all been rosy for Hamlin, who now resides in Los Lunas. About five years ago, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disease characterized by chronic pain. Despite affecting millions of Americans, the disease remains somewhat shrouded in mystery.
That’s where Hamlin comes in. Increasing public awareness about the disease has become her crusade. She appeared on the cover of the National Fibromyalgia Association’s magazine this past winter and performed at the organization’s “Leaders Against Pain” convention in California in March, receiving positive feedback from those in attendance.
“A woman (who has fibromyalgia) came up to me and said, ‘When you sang that song, I had tears in my eyes because I relate to your song and yet, here you are talking about what I have, and you’re relating to me,'” the singer recalls.
Hamlin is even hoping to start a local support group for those affected by the disease.
“Because of my years in the public eye, I can do an interview here or there, and I can use my name or who I am to help people to understand that they might have this illness, and (I can) speak out, because not everyone can speak out and be heard,” says Hamlin, who also wants to provide hope to people with the disease. “There’s some people who are probably floundering in the dark who don’t know what’s the matter with them.”
Hamlin knows what that’s like. She says she felt scared and alone when she was first diagnosed. Those feelings combined with the excruciating pain, exhaustion and concentration problems associated with fibromyalgia have made the past several years extremely difficult.
“I was having a hard time in my brain stringing words together to make a sentence that made sense. It’s like you forget things you’ve known all your life,” explains Hamlin, adding that the physical pain is sometimes unbearable. At times, there is a burning sensation so intense, she says, it’s as if “every blood vessel is full of fire.”
“I would lay on the couch and cry for days. It could be three or four days straight when I couldn’t even get up and didn’t want to eat or anything,” recalls Hamlin.
And performing — which she’d been doing for almost her entire life — became impossible.
Although she’d slowed down since her teenage heyday, Hamlin was still traveling and doing several concerts each month until her body would no longer permit her to keep the hectic schedule.
“I couldn’t fake it anymore. I couldn’t hide the fact I was having this happen. You can’t be hired for a concert and keep a high energy level when, all the sudden, it would hit you and you can no longer control it, so I just quit,” says Hamlin.
Although she’s no longer touring anymore, Hamlin has found other outlets for her creativity. She’s painting again. It’s something she’s done for many years and has always wanted to have more time to do.
“It’s a quieter form of expression. It’s a peaceful form of expression, where with music you’re giving your all and, in the time you’re on stage, you may totally wear yourself out emotionally and physically,” says Hamlin who has found comfort in painting because she can do it whenever she pleases. “I picked up that because I can do it in my pajamas if I feel like it.”
Hamlin is also involved in her church. She hosts Bible study and sometimes sings during services. Religion, she says, has helped her deal with her condition. And so has her involvement with the National Fibromyalgia Association.
“I’m trying to cope and, at the same time, trying to help create an awareness so it won’t be so hard for other people who are just finding out that they have it or don’t know they have it. If I’d read a story about it when I was first diagnosed, I don’t think I’d have been as scared,” Hamlin says. “I guess I am fortunate that I can utilize (my celebrity) and be able to be a voice.”
VISIT ROSIE HAMLIN’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.rosieandtheoriginals.com
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