Rosie Vela was born Roseanne Vela in Galveston Texas on December 18, 1954.
Vela’s family later moved to Arkansas, where she attended the University of Arkansas. Whilst studying art and music, Vela also began modeling. She married the Arkansas born musician, Jimmy Roberts, but he died of cancer shortly after. Following this, Vela moved to New York where her modeling career took off. She is inarguably one of the supermodels of all time, and graced the covers and pages of various magazines from the 1970s onwards: Vogue, New Woman, Glamour, Living Fit, Ultra, Town & Country, Woman’s Day, New York. She appeared in numerous cosmetic advertisements for Revlon, Coty, Max Factor, Elizabeth Arden, Avon; print ads for: Gianni Versace, Valentino, Gloria Vanderbilt, Napier, Halston and many television commercials.
At the height of her career she was in a relationship with the artist Peter Max. Max hand painted a hat she wore in a Vogue spread in the mid seventies for the issue.
Turning her attention to music, Vela built a home recording studio for herself and signed a recording contract with A&M Records. She released her debut album in 1986. The entire album was written or co-written by Vela, and was produced by Gary Katz.
It is also notable for the fact that it included contributions from both Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (two of Vela’s musical heroes) – five years after they had disbanded their group Steely Dan. Though the album went largely unnoticed in the U.S., it fared better in Europe and a single from the album, “Magic Smile”, was a Top 30 hit in the UK Singles Chart. The album itself peaked at #20 in the UK Albums Chart, and was certified silver by the BPI in March 1987. Further singles, “Interlude” and “Fool’s Paradise” met with less success.
Following Zazu, Vela did not release any further recordings, but has since become a backing vocalist for other musicians: including ELO on their 2001 album; Zoom. Vela also toured with the band, and was (for a time) in a relationship with ELO’s then frontman Jeff Lynne.
Vela has also appeared in several films, including Heavens Gate, The Two Jakes, and co-starred in Inside Edge opposite Michael Madsen.