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Rod Temperton Dead: 'Thriller' Songwriter Dies Aged 66

He had a 'brief but aggressive' battle with cancer.

06/10/2016 09:24 | Updated 06 October 2016

Rod Temperton, the man behind Michael Jackson’s hit ‘Thriller’, has died aged 66. 

The British songwriter - often nicknamed The Invisible Man due to his low profile - passed away in London last week, following a “brief but aggressive” battle with cancer. 

David M. Benett via Getty Images
Rod Temperton (pictured with Mica Paris) has died at the age of 66

John Platt, the chairman of the Warner/Chappell music publisher, said (via the Guardian): “His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times.” 

As well as writing other MJ classics including ‘Rock With You’, ‘Off The Wall’ and ‘Burn This Disco Out’, Rod was previously a member of the band Heatwave during the 1970s. 

He was responsible for their hits ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Always And Forever’, and after leaving the group in 1978, he went on to write for the likes of George Benson, Donna Summer, Michael McDonald, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, The Brothers Johnson, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. 

Michael Putland via Getty Images
Rod with his Heatwave bandmates

Rod - originally from Cleethorpes in north Lincolnshire - was also nominated for an Oscar in 1986 in the Best Original Song category for ‘Miss Celie’s Blues’, which he co-wrote with Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones for the film ‘The Color Purple’. 

He later won a Grammy Award in 1990 for his work on Quincy Jones’ ‘Birdland’.

Disco legends Nile Rodgers and Chaka Khan, producer Mark Ronson and rapper LLCoolJ were among those who paid tribute on Twitter. 

A private funeral for Rod is said to have already taken place. 

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