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Thriller songwriter Rod Temperton dead at 66

Rod Temperton, the man who wrote Michael Jackson’s record breaking 1984 hit Thriller, has died aged 66.
Born in Cleethorpes, England, the musician passed away last week (end02Oct16) after a short battle with cancer.
In addition to the title track he wrote two other songs on the Thriller album, which having sold more than 100 million copies is still the biggest selling of all time, The Lady in My Life and Baby Be Mine.
“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.” a statement from bosses at his music publisher Chappell/Warner Music read.
The 14 minute John Landis directed-video which accompanied Thriller is seen by many as a landmark moment in music history, and it was inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2009.
In addition to his work on Thriller, Temperton penned a number of other songs for Jackson including his hit Rock with You and the title track Off The Wall.
After Jackson’s 2009 death Temperton told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper how he had come up with the name Thriller for the song and album.
“Originally, when I did my Thriller demo, I called it Starlight. Quincy (Jones, the album’s producer) said to me, ‘You managed to come up with a title for the last album, see what you can do for this album.’ I said, ‘Oh great,’ so I went back to the hotel, wrote two or three hundred titles, and came up with the title ‘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 visualize it on the top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandising for this one word, how it jumped off the page as ‘Thriller’.”
Temperton was so successful in writing hits for stars including Lionel Richie, George Benson and Aretha Franklin that he was nicknamed The Invisible Man.
His musical success did not entirely come behind the scenes, as he played keyboards in the funk band Heatwave, who had a string of hits in the 1970s including Boogie Nights, Always and Forever, and The Groove Line.
He was also nominated for an Oscar alongside Richie and Quincy Jones as co-writers of the song Miss Celie’s Blues from the 1985 film The Color Purple.
Temperton also won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement for the song Birdland from Quincy Jones’s album Back on the Block.
The statement announcing Temperton’s death concluded, “His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times.”

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