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Keyboardist, Songwriter Rod Temperton Dies

(CelebrityAccess) — Rodney Lynn "Rod" Temperton, an English songwriter, record producer, and musician who performed with the funk band Heatwave and wrote hits such as "Thriller" died last week. He was 66, according to his family.

Warner/Chappell Chairman & CEO Jon Platt said in a statement that he died after a brief, aggressive battle with cancer. He did not give the date or location, and noted that the funeral had been conducted in private.

According to the New York Times, Temperton came to the attention of Quincy Jones while he was playing keyboard and serving as a songwriter for the disco-funk group Heatwave, which recorded hits like "Boogie Nights" on their debut album "Too Hot To Handle."

Jones invited Temperton to submit songs for Michael Jackson's fifth album, leading to hits such as “Off the Wall,” which became the title track of the album, released in late 1979, and “Rock With You,” which hit #1 on the charts.

Temperton later wrote three songs for Jackson's smash hit "Thriller" album, including the title hit.

"I went back to the hotel, wrote two or three hundred titles and came up with Midnight Man. The next morning I woke up and I just said this word. Something in my head just said, 'This is the title'. You could visualise it at the top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandising for this one word, how it jumped off the page as 'Thriller'," Temperton told The Telegraph in 2009.

Other hits for Temperton include "Give Me The Night" (George Benson); "Baby, Come To Me" (Patti Austin and James Ingram); and "Sweet Freedom" (Michael McDonald.)

Temperton went on to write music for films and in 1986 was nominated for Best Original Song Oscar for "Miss Celie's Blues," which he cowrote with Quincy Jones. – Staff Writers