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Rockwell is Kennedy Gordy, son of Motown founder Berry Gordy from a relationship with Margaret Norton. Kennedy put the demo together with the help of a Motown producer named Curtis Nolen. Berry Gordy didn't have much faith in his son as a recording artist, but when he heard this, he knew it was a hit and agreed to release it.
Michael Jackson sang backup. Rockwell's sister Hazel was married to Jackson's brother Jermaine. Michael Jackson was at the height of his powers, and Rockwell knew he could get the song released if he could convince Michael to sing on it. (thanks, Brian - Edmonton, Canada)
The Motown brain trust came up with the name "Rockwell." Prince and Madonna were doing very well using one name, and inspiration struck when someone saw a photo of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Christian rapper Toby Mac (real name: Toby McKeegan) of the band DC Talk sampled this for his song "Somebody's Watching." In this case, it referred to God, who Toby believed was constantly looking out for him. Joanna Valencia sang backup vocals. Toby Mac also sampled the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth
" for his song "What's Goin' Down?," both of which appear on the album Momentum
. (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada)
In 2006 Beatfreakz, a duo from Holland, reached #3 in the UK with a dance version of this song that also topped the charts in Spain. The video was a parody of Michael Jackson's "Thriller
." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
This was used in commercials for Geico insurance in 2008. The ads showed stacks of money with googly eyes staring at people who might save money on their car insurance. This song played whenever the money was nearby. The spots were very successful and ran well into 2009 and Michael Jackson's unexpected death.
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristian talks songwriting technique, like how the chorus should redefine the story, and how to write a song backwards.
Loudon Wainwright III
"Dead Skunk" became a stinker for Loudon when he felt pressure to make another hit. His latest songs deal with mortality, his son Rufus, and picking up poop.
Newman makes it look easy these days, but in this 1974 interview, he reveals the paranoia and pressures that made him yearn for his old 9-5 job.
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes
"Great songwriters don't necessarily have hit songs," says Chris. He's written a bunch, but his fans are more interested in the intricate jams.