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Stars pay tribute to Thriller songwriter Rod Temperton

Published 05/10/2016

Songwriter Rod Temperton with his wife Kathy
Songwriter Rod Temperton with his wife Kathy

Mark Ronson, Boy George and Chaka Khan are among the stars who have paid tribute to songwriter Rod Temperton, following his death from cancer at the age of 66.

Musician Ronson said he was "devastated" to hear that Temperton - the songwriter behind Michael Jackson's Thriller and Rock With You - had died.

He tweeted: "So devastated to hear that Rod Temperton has passed away. a wonderful man & one of my favourite songwriters ever. thank you for the magic."

The news was announced by Temperton's music publisher, who confirmed he had died last week.

Jon Platt, chairman and chief executive 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 added: "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."

Singer George wrote: "Sad to hear about the passing of Rod Temperton, a great British songwriter who gave us so much great music. R.I.P."

American singer Khan referenced the song Live In Me, which Temperton wrote for her when she was in the band Rufus.

She wrote: "Thank u 4 your superlative songwriting @RodTemperton. U will always Live in Me. Rest in power."

Temperton began his career as a member of the disco band Heatwave, writing the 1970s' hits Always And Forever and Boogie Nights for the group.

He collaborated with the likes of Anita Baker, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin and The Brothers Johnson. He also wrote songs for Karen Carpenter, Donna Summer, Mariah Carey and Mica Paris.

But he was best known for writing songs for Jackson's albums Off The Wall and Thriller, after working with the singer's producer Quincy Jones.

When he joined Heatwave, Temperton had been working in a frozen fish factory in Grimsby.

He came up with the title for the smash hit song and album Thriller, which went on to sell millions of copies worldwide.

"I wrote two or three hundred titles and came up with Midnight Man. I woke up the next morning and I said this word, Thriller," he has been quoted as saying.

"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."

Cleethorpes-born Temperton is also said to have come up with much of the song in the back of a taxi, on the way to the studio.

Despite his huge success, eventually owning properties in Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, the south of France, Switzerland, Fiji and Kent, he shunned the limelight.

He said of his life: "I watch telly, catch up on the news, and maybe the phone will ring."

The cast of the West End theatre show Thriller Live will dim the lights ahead of their performance as a tribute to Temperton.

They said: " The lights at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue will be dimmed for five minutes tonight at 7.25pm before Thriller Live starts, to pay tribute to Rod Temperton, the British writer of Michael Jackson's iconic Thriller, one of the UK's most successful songwriters, who sadly passed away last week.

"Thank you for the music. The Thriller Live family salute you."

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