Friday, March 16, 2012

Rockwell - "Obscene Phone Caller"

(Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted May 15, 1984, Peaked #35, 14 Weeks on the Chart)

"Rockwell" was the stage name of Kennedy Gordy, the son of Motown founder Berry Gordy. The story goes that he changed his name to avoid charges of nepotism and that he secured his singing with Motown without his father's knowledge. That said, I'm not sure what to make of the claim. The Motown family was small enough that -- even if Gordy wasn't aware that his own son was signed to the label right away -- there was no way to get on the label without somebody knowing they were putting his son on the label. Also, there was no secret about Rockwell's true identity during the chart run of his biggest hit "Somebody's Watching Me." Radio announcers, MTV VJs and Casey Kasem were all quick to point out his bloodline at that time.

That song would get Rockwell labeled as a One-Hit wonder, but he did manage to get a second hit that peaked in the Top 40 during the Summer of '84. A song that could be categorized as a novelty in the hands of some artists, the main theme of "Obscene Phone Caller" fed in to the paranoia behind his first hit quite neatly. The two songs were his entire slate of chart entries, so he was off the Motown label around the same time his father sold it.

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