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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.
La La Brooks of The Crystals
The lead singer on "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," La La explains how and why Phil Spector replaced The Crystals with Darlene Love on "He's A Rebel."
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.
The "How Country Feels" singer talks Skynyrd and songwriting.
This all-female group of country rockers were on their way to stardom in the '00s, with a Starbucks deal and major label backing.