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Issue 1084

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Rod Temperton RIP

Rod Temperton RIP @bluesandsoul.com
Rod Temperton RIP @bluesandsoul.com

Rod Temperton, the legendary songwriter for among others Michael Jackson, and a member of the hit UK chart band Heatwave in the 1970s, has died at the age of 66. He had been battling cancer.

His passing was announced in a brief statement by the chairman of his music publishers, Warner/Chappell, Jon Platt on Wednesday (5th October.) He said that Mr Temperton had succumbed to ‘a brief aggressive battle with cancer’. He also said that his funeral was private.

The statement continued: ‘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.’

Mark Ronson, Questlove, Diane Warren, Marvin Humes, La Toyah Jackson, Boy George, Trevor Nelson and Nile Rodgers were among the many stars who flooded social media with their tributes soon after news of his death. Rodgers summed it up nicely: “Your genius gave us a funkier world.”

Rod who was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, was often referred to as The Invisible Man as despite his global success ands fame, he shunned publicity and the spotlight. As a member of disco and soul band Heatwave, keyboard player and main songwriter, he wrote their biggest hits “Boogie Nights” and “Always And Forever.”

After he quit in 1978 for a songwriting career, he came to the attention of Quincy Jones to work on songs for Michael Jackson’s 1979 album “Off The Wall.” He wrote the title track and the smash hit, “Rock With You,” which made the top spot in the US chart.

He penned the title track to the biggest selling album of all time, MJ’s “Thriller.” He has written for a host of big stars, including Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer, George Benson, Anita Baker, The Brothers Johnson, Herbie Hancock and Mica Paris.

He formed a group for his school's music competitions, when he was a drummer. He has said that he used to sit in the living room at home on his drum kit as a youngster, playing along to the music on the test card on the TV. After school he worked in the office of a frozen food factory in Grimsby. But it was not long before he left to work full time as a musician, in disco bands and travelling to play in Europe.

In 1972 Temperton and guitarist Bernd Springer formed a soul cover band called Sundown Carousel. With Temperton on an old Hammond organ the band performed in clubs and GI bars in German cities. In 1974 he answered an advert in Melody Maker and became a member of Heatwave.

He wrote a lot of the band’s hit album “Too Hot To handle,” including "Boogie Nights", which broke the band in Britain and the United States, and the ballad, "Always and Forever" – both tracks million-sellers in the US.

In 1977 Heatwave followed up the success of their first L.P. with their second, Central Heating, Temperton behind the majority of the songs. It included "The Groove Line", another huge selling hit single with the by now familiar Heatwave sound and Rod Temperton hook.

In the early 1980s Temperton left Germany and moved to Beverly Hills, California. In 1982 Temperton wrote three songs, including the title track, for Jackson's next LP, Thriller, which became the biggest-selling album of all time.

All of us at Blues & Soul send our condolences to Rod's family, friend and colleagues. He will be missed.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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