Many people know the song “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell, a synth-pop hit from 1984 that features the unmistakable voice of Michael Jackson on the chorus. But how did Rockwell and Jackson end up working together? And are they related in any way? Here is the truth behind their musical collaboration.
Rockwell: The Son of Motown’s Founder
Rockwell is the stage name of Kennedy William Gordy, the son of Motown founder and CEO Berry Gordy. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1964 and grew up surrounded by music and celebrities. His father named him after John F. Kennedy and Smokey Robinson, one of Motown’s most successful artists and producers.
Rockwell wanted to pursue a career in music, but he did not want to rely on his father’s influence or connections. He secured a record deal with Motown without his father’s knowledge, using a demo tape he recorded with a friend. He also changed his name to Rockwell, because he believed that he “rocked well”.
Somebody’s Watching Me: A Paranoid Pop Anthem
Rockwell’s debut single was “Somebody’s Watching Me”, a song he wrote and recorded in 1983. The song is about a man who feels paranoid and anxious about being watched by strangers, the government, and even his own dog. Rockwell said that the song was inspired by God, who he felt was always watching over him.
The song features guest vocals by Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson, who were childhood friends of Rockwell. Michael Jackson agreed to sing the chorus as a favor to Rockwell, who had helped him with some dance moves in the past. Jermaine Jackson provided additional backing vocals.
The song was produced by Curtis Anthony Nolen, who used synthesizers, drum machines, and percussion to create a catchy and spooky sound. The song also sampled dialogue from horror movies such as Psycho and Halloween.
A Worldwide Success with a Twist
“Somebody’s Watching Me” was released in January 1984 and became a worldwide success. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S., only behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. It also topped the charts in Belgium, France, and Spain, and reached the top 10 in many other countries.
The song was also popular among fans of Michael Jackson, who recognized his distinctive voice on the chorus. Many people assumed that Rockwell was related to Michael Jackson, since they both had the same last name (Jackson) and were signed to Motown. However, this was not the case.
Rockwell and Michael Jackson were not related by blood, but they were related by marriage. Rockwell’s half-sister is Rhonda Ross Kendrick, the daughter of Diana Ross and Berry Gordy. Diana Ross was married to Robert Ellis Silberstein from 1971 to 1977, who adopted Rhonda as his daughter. Robert Ellis Silberstein also adopted Chudney Ross, Diana Ross’ daughter with Ryan O’Neal.
Chudney Ross is the mother of Callaway Lane Silberstein, who was born in 2012. Callaway Lane Silberstein is the half-cousin of Prince Michael Jackson II (also known as Blanket), who is the son of Michael Jackson and an unnamed surrogate mother.
Therefore, Rockwell and Michael Jackson are half-cousins once removed by marriage.
Rockwell’s Short-Lived Career and Legacy
“Somebody’s Watching Me” was Rockwell’s biggest and only hit. His follow-up singles, such as “Obscene Phone Caller” and “He’s a Cobra”, failed to match its success. He released two more albums before ending his musical career with Motown in 1986.
Rockwell has remained out of the public eye since then, except for some occasional appearances and interviews. He married Nicole Moore in 2010, but filed for divorce in 2013. He has no children.
“Somebody’s Watching Me” has become a classic pop song that is often played during Halloween or whenever someone feels paranoid or watched. It has been covered by many artists, such as Mystikal, DJ BoBo, Beatfreakz, and The Upperclass Men. It has also been sampled or referenced by artists such as Eminem, Lil Wayne, Akon, Gorillaz, and Logic.
The song has also been used in various movies, TV shows, commercials, video games, and memes. Some examples are Scary Movie 3 , The Simpsons , Geico , Grand Theft Auto V , and Shrek .
“Somebody’s Watching Me” is a testament to Rockwell’s talent as a songwriter and singer, as well as to Michael Jackson’s generosity and friendship. It is a song that will always make people wonder: who is watching me?