Passings: Songwriting Great Rod Temperton (1947 - 2016)

by VVN Music

Rod Temperton, who wrote some of the biggest hits of the 70's and 80's, died last week in London after a short battle with a very aggressive cancer. He was 66.

While best known for Michael Jackson's Thriller and Rock With You, he also had major hits with Heatwave, The Brothers Johnson, George Benson, Patti Austin, James Ingram, Donna Summer, Michael McDonald and many more.

Jon Platt, chairman and CEO of Warner/Chappell, said:
Rod Temperton, British Composer and Musician, died last week at the age of 66 in London following a brief aggressive battle with cancer. His funeral was private. He was often referred to as The Invisible Man. He was the sole writer of multiple successful songs such as Thriller, Off The Wall, Rock With You, Give Me The Night, Sweet Freedom, Always & Forever and Boogie Nights to name just a few.

His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times.
Temperton was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, England on October 9, 1947 and had music in his life from the time he was born. He once said "My father wasn't the kind of person who'd read you a story before you went off to sleep – he used to put a transistor radio in the crib, right on the pillow, and I'd go to sleep listening to Radio Luxembourg and I think that had an influence."

He started out as a drummer in bands during high school, eventually taking up keyboards and becoming a full time musician. His first band was called Sundown Carousel and, in 1974, he answered an ad placed by the late Johnnie Wilder, Jr. who was looking for a keyboard player for a new funk band. The two formed Heatwave and, in 1976, were signed with GTO in the U.K. (distributed in the U.S. by Epic) to record their debut album Too Hot to Handle. The first two singles from the album did not chart but number three, Temperton's Boogie Nights, went to number 2 in the U.S. and Britain and number 5 on the R&B chart.  Temperton also wrote the other big hit from the album, the ballad Always and Forever (1977 / #18 Pop / #2 R&B / #9 U.K.).

The band released their second album, Central Heating, in 1978 with sales pushed by another of Rod's songs, The Groove Line (1978 / #7 Pop / #3 R&B / #12 U.K.).

Temperton left the band in the late-70's although he continued to write for them but his composing talents had been put on the radar of such greats as Quincy Jones. He brought Rod in to compose for Michael Jackson's comeback album, Off the Wall, with Temperton contributing  the title song, Rock With You and Burn This Disco Out. He returned for the Thriller album, once again writing the title track along with Baby Be Mine and The Lady in My Life, the latter two being the only songs from the album not released as singles.

Demand for Temperton was at an all time high and his songs dotted the charts (see below). He was nominated for an Oscar in 1986 for the song Miss Cellie's Blues from The Color Purple. He also had a major movie hit later that year with the song Sweet Freedom from Running Scared.

The hits of Rod Temperton:
  • Boogie Nights - Heatwave (1977 / #2 Pop / #5 R&B / #2 U.K.)
  • Too Hot to Handle - Heatwave (1977 / #12 U.K.)
  • Always and Forever - Heatwave (1977 / #18 Pop / #2 R&B / #33 Adult Contemporary / #9 U.K.)
  • The Groove Line - Heatwave (1978 / #7 Pop / #3 R&B / #12 U.K.)
  • Rock With You - Michael Jackson (1979 / #1 Pop / #1 R&B / #21 AC / #7 U.K.)
  • Off the Wall - Michael Jackson (1979 / #10 Pop / #5 R&B / #7 U.K.)
  • Stomp! - Brothers Johnson (1980 / #7 Pop / #1 R&B / #1 Dance / #6 U.K.)
  • Light Up the Night - Brothers Johnson (1980 / #16 R&B / #47 U.K.)
  • Give Me the Night - George Benson (1980 / #4 Pop / #1 R&B / #2 Dance / #26 AC / #7 U.K.)
  • Love X Love - George Benson (1980 / #61 Pop / #9 R&B / #10 U.K.)
  • Turn Out the Lamplight - George Benson (1980 / #33 R&B / #9 AC)
  • Razzmatazz - Quincy Jones (1981 / #17 R&B / #3 Dance / #11 U.K.)
  • Do You Love Me? - Patti Austin (1981 / #24 R&B / #1 Dance / #76 U.K.)
  • Love is In Control (Finger on the Trigger) - Donna Summer (1982 / #10 Pop / #4 R&B / #3 Dance / #18 U.K.)
  • Baby, Come to Me - Patti Austin & James Ingram (1982 / #1 Pop / #9 R&B / #1 AC / #11 U.K.)
  • Spice of Life - Manhattan Transfer (1982 / 1983 / #40 Pop / #32 R&B / #5 AC / #19 U.K.)
  • Thriller - Michael Jackson (1983 / #4 Pop / #3 R&B / #24 AC / #10 U.K.)
  • Yah Mo B There - James Ingram & Michael McDonald (1983 / #19 Pop / #5 R&B / #10 AC / #12 U.K.)
  • Mystery - Manhattan Transfer (1984 / #80 R&B / #6 AC)
  • Sweet Freedom - Michael McDonald (1986 / #7 Pop / #17 R&B / #4 AC / #8 Dance / #12 U.K.)
  • Man Size Love - Klymaxx (1986 / #15 Pop / #43 R&B / #18 Dance / #86 U.K.)
  • The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite) - Quincy Jones (1990 / #31 Pop / #1 R&B / #26 R&B / #67 U.K.)
  • Always and Forever - Whistle (1990 / #35 Pop / #9 R&B)
  • Always and Forever - Luther Vandross (1994 / #58 Pop / #16 R&B / #25 AC / #20 U.K.)
  • Hey Lover - LL Cool J (1995 / #3 Pop / #3 R&B / #17 U.K.)
  • You Put a Move on My Heart - Tamia (1995 / #98 Pop / #16 R&B)
  • Stomp - Quincy Jones (1996 / #1 Dance / #28 U.K.)
  • Up Jumps da Boogie - Timbaland & Magoo (1997 / #12 Pop / #4 R&B)
  • Sweet Freedom - Shawn Christopher (1998 / #1 Dance)
  • Grooveline - Blockster (1999 / #18 U.K.)

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