“Thriller” Songwriter Rod Temperton Dies

Rod Temperton, the legendary songwriter who wrote several of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, passed away last week after a brief battle with cancer. He was 66.

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Known in the industry as the “Invisible Man,” Temperton got his start as the keyboardist for the disco-funk group “Heatwave.” He then began his foray into songwriting after Quincy Jones sought him out for MJ’s freshman debut Off The Wall in which he wrote the album’s title track, “Rock With You” and “Burn This Disco Out” Three years later, Jones reconnected with Temperton for Jackson’s blockbuster record Thriller.

“Originally, when I did my demo, I called it ‘Starlight,’ Quincy said to me, ‘Well, you came up with the title of the last album, see what you can do for this album.’ I said, ‘Great,'” Temperton recalled during a BBC Radio 2 interview. “I went back to the hotel, I wrote two or three hundred titles for this song. Then I came up with the title ‘Midnight,’ [Jones] said that’s a little bit more mystery, more where you should be heading … The next morning I woke up and I just said this word. Something in my head just said ‘This is the title.’ You could visualize it on top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandizing of this one word; it jumped off the page at you. So I knew I had to write it as ‘Thriller,’ and I wrote all the words very quickly, then went to the studio and we did it.”

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Along with “Thriller” Temperton also penned “Baby Be Mine” and “The Lady In My Life.” Temperton has worked with many greats including Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Donna Summer and more.

Rest Easy, Mr. Temperton.