“Send my love to Rosie”: The song John Lennon called his “all-time favourite”

Whether it was Elvis, Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly, music has always been bubbling in the blood of John Lennon. Ever the rebel, Lennon found comfort in the persistent non-conformity of rock ‘n’ roll and cherished it until his dying day. While The Beatles certainly dabbled in a range of different genres, with folk, pop and psychedelia all mainstays of their discography, Lennon was always a rocker at heart.

The singer understood music’s value for the everyday working-class kid and prized the art form of songwriting above all else. It was an ethos he took into his time with The Beatles and his solo career. The ability to write and record a tune which not only expressed a personal emotion but opened up a universal theme for those who heard it was something truly transcendental, far richer than any deity or establishment.

With such a concentration on music in his life, Lennon’s choice of favourite artists was kept relatively close to his chest. He was, of course, happy during The Beatles’ early days to share the myriad of influential musicians who shaped him, with Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, The Shadows, and Bob Dylan, all considered big inspirations to him and the band. He famously noted of Chuck Berry: “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.” However, as time passed and Lennon’s fame grew, he rarely opined about the music he listened to.

It’s an especially curious detail, given that Lennon was usually happy to say a few words about almost anything. However, on the subject of picking out artists he would call his favourite, only the founding fathers of his inspiration are given the seal of approval. Outside of Dylan, his contemporaries were largely left untouched by his gifted words. That didn’t mean that, like every music fan, Lennon didn’t have his favourite songs and artists.

Excluding Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly, who were other prominent pop stars blaring out of the bespectacled Beatle’s speakers? According to the Express, there was one song that Lennon labelled his “all-time favourite”. The track was a rarely heard number titled ‘Angel Baby’ and was originally recorded by Rosie and the Originals in 1960.

Perhaps one of the most obvious indicators of Lennon’s affection for the track was picking it for a legendary covers album. The song was originally scheduled to be a part of John Lennon’s iconic covers album Rock ‘n’ Roll, a record which is drenched in infamy for the singer. In a contractual agreement, Lennon phoned in some of the covers while he gave his utmost to others. One song that probably landed in the latter category was ‘Angel Baby’, which Lennon provided a rendition of during the sessions.

Laying down the track on October 26th, 1973, as part of those now-notorious sessions during his Lost Weekend period, Lennon was clearly enamoured with the song’s original rendition. That’s because he didn’t see fit to include his cover on the album release despite the obvious quality.

It’s unknown why Lennon decided to remove the song from the release. The doo-wop number was clearly close to his heart. Speaking of the single years later, Lennon recalled: “This here is one of my all-time favourite songs.” Adding later: “Send my love to Rosie, wherever she may be.” It might not have been the rock and roll foot-stomper you’d expect, but it is certainly dripping in sentiment and is likely the kind of track Lennon would imagine himself slow-dancing too at the end of the bike race.

John Lennon was a man of contradictions, a peace-loving yet violent man, a folkish hero who desecrated his hero status, he was as much a rocker as he was totally enamoured with the sweetest of pop ballads.

You can listen to John Lennon’s “all-time favourite” song ‘Angel Baby’ by Rosie and the Originals below.

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