Rod Temperton Dead: Michael Jackson Songwriter Dies at 66


Goodbye to an icon. Rod Temperton, the legendary songwriter behind many of Michael Jackson‘s most iconic singles, died last week in London, Warner/Chappell Music confirmed. He was 66.

In a statement released Wednesday, October 5, Warner/Chappell Chairman and CEO Jon Platt announced that Temperton died “following a brief aggressive battle with cancer.” He was memorialized at a private funeral ceremony.

“His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times,” Platt added.

Temperton was best known for his work as the sole songwriter of several of the late King of Pop’s songs, including “Thriller,” “Rock With You,” “Off the Wall” and “The Lady in My Life.” He also composed tracks for legendary artists such as Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones and The Carpenters.

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson (1958–2009) performs the dance from ‘Thriller,’ circa 1984. Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Cleethorpes, England, native got his start in the music industry in the 1970s as the keyboardist in the funk band Heatwave. He left the group in 1978 to focus on songwriting, but continued to write for the band.

In 1986, Temperton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Miss Celie’s Blues,” which he cowrote with Jones, now 83, and Lionel Richie for the film adaptation of The Color Purple.

After the news of Temperton’s death broke, several musicians took to social media to pay their respects. The Weeknd, who has repeatedly cited Jackson as his biggest influence, tweeted, “R.I.P to the legend Rod Temperton.” Chaka Khan wrote, “Thank u 4 your superlative songwriting @RodTemperton. U will always Live in Me. Rest in power.”

Nile Rodgers also shared a series of tributes on Twitter, including a photo of himself and the late songwriter with Jones. “#RodTemperton #RIP Your genius gave us a funkier world!” he wrote.

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