Rod Temperton

Songwriter Rod Temperton dies, aged 66

Rod Temperton, the Cleethorpes-born musician and songwriter behind some of Michael Jackson’s best known hits, has died at the age of 66.

Beginning his career as keyboard player for Heatwave in 1970, Temperton also wrote the band’s biggest hit Boogie Nights (1977, #2) as well as Too Hot to Handle (1977, #15), The Groove Line (1978, #12) and Always and Forever (1978, #9). Temperton left Heatwave in 1978 although he continued to write for the band, penning their final top forty hits Gangsters of the Groove and Jitterbuggin’ in 1981. By this time, however, he had been headhunted by Quincy Jones to write songs for Michael Jackson’s breakthrough solo album Off The Wall. Temperton supplied three tracks for the album, two of which – Rock With You and the title track – became top ten hits. He also penned the title track for Jackson’s record breaking follow-up album Thriller as well as hits for Michael McDonald (Sweet Freedom, Yah Mo B There), George Benson (Give Me The Night, Love x Love), Donna Summer (Love is in Control) and Quincy Jones himself (Razzamatazz). His work as associate producer on Jones’ 1989 album Back on the Block earned him a Grammy, while he received two Oscar nominations for his work with Jones on the soundtrack to The Color Purple.

Jon Platt, CEO of music publishers Warner Chappell, announced today that Temperton had died last week after “a brief aggressive battle with cancer” and was given a private funeral, adding that “his family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times.”