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ROD TEMPERTON,
1947-2016

Rod Temperton, musician, producer and songwriter best known for penning Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Rock With You,” died in London following a brief  battle with cancer. He was 66.

Jon Platt, Chairman & CEO of Warner/Chappell, the songwriter's music publisher announced his death today. “He was often referred to as The Invisible Man,” Platt said in a statement.

Temperton broke into the music business with the funk-disco band Heatwave, which charted in 1977 with two Temperton compositions, the dance-floor anthem “Boogie Nights” and the ballad “Always and Forever.”

Quincy Jones recruited Temperton to join his stable of producer/arranger/composers and he started working with Jackson on his first solo album for Epic, Off The Wall. Besides “Rock With You,” Temperton also wrote “Off the Wall” and “Burn This Disco Out”; he also handled vocal and instrumental arrangements.

Following the success of Off the Wall, Temperton became an in-demand songwriter and arranger, working with George Benson, The Brothers Johnson, Manhattan Transfer, Michael McDonald, Anita Baker and numerous others in the 1980s. Benson had his commercial breakthrough with Temperton’s “Give Me the Night”; wrote a half-dozen songs for the Billy Crystal-Gregory Hines film Running Scared; and won a Grammy for his part in the arrangement of Quincy Jones’ version of Joe Zawinul’s “Birdland.”

“Rod Temperton’s prolific songwriting talent made him one of music’s most sought-after collaborators. Possessing a golden ear for pop, funk, and jazz, he worked with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Donna Summer, among many others,” said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow.  “We have lost a cherished member of the music community and our sincerest condolences go out to Rod’s family, friends, and collaborators.

A native of England’s eastern shore area of Lincolnshire, Temperton was know for being a media-shy recluse, rarely appearing in public or giving interviews. As a keyboardist in disco bands, Temperton found work in Germany, which is where he learned to become a lyricist as well as a composer. The first lyrics he ever wrote were for “Always and Forever.”

In a 2006 interview for a BBC Radio 2 documentary, Temperton said he wrote nearly 300 songs for Jackson to consider for Thriller. Through Jones’ wife at the time, Peggy Lipton, they were able to book Vincent Price, but it wasn’t until Temperton was in a taxi on his way to the studio that he was able to write Price’s spoken word part for “Thriller.”

 

 

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