|Birth name||Rodney Lynn Temperton|
9 October 1949|
Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, England
Late September / early October 2016 (aged 66)|
|Genres||R&B, funk, disco, soul|
|Occupation(s)||Songwriter, record producer, musician|
|Associated acts||Michael Jackson, Heatwave, Quincy Jones|
Rodney Lynn "Rod" Temperton (9 October 1949 – September/October 2016) was an English songwriter, record producer and musician. He initially made his mark as the keyboardist and main songwriter for the 1970s R&B, funk and disco band Heatwave, whose hit songs included "Boogie Nights" and "Always and Forever".
After being recruited by producer Quincy Jones, he wrote several internationally known songs performed by Michael Jackson, including "Thriller", "Off the Wall" and "Rock with You". He also wrote George Benson's hit "Give Me the Night", and Patti Austin and James Ingram's US number one hit "Baby, Come to Me", among many others.
Rodney Temperton was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, on 9 October 1949. Interviewed for the BBC Radio 2 documentary "The Invisible Man: the Rod Temperton Story", Temperton said that he was a musician from an early age: "My father wasn't the kind of person who'd read you a story before you went off to sleep – he used to put a transistor radio in the crib, right on the pillow, and I'd go to sleep listening to Radio Luxembourg and I think that had an influence". Temperton attended De Aston Grammar School, Market Rasen and he formed a group for the school's music competitions. He was a drummer at this time. "I'd get in the living room with my snare drum and my cymbal and play along to the Test Card, which was all kinds of music they'd be playing continuously." On leaving school he started working for Ross Frozen Foods in Grimsby, Lincolnshire.
He soon became a full-time musician as a keyboard player, and played in several dance bands. This took him to Worms in Germany. In 1974 he answered an advert in Melody Maker placed by Johnnie Wilder, Jr. and as a result became a member of the funk and disco band, Heatwave, which Wilder was putting together at the time. "He was the first British guy that I had ever met personally. He spoke kind of funny but he had a good sense of humour and he was a very friendly guy. After meeting him and then seeing him play I kind of determined he was a good enough player and entertainer and I just knew he would fit in the group", said Wilder. Temperton played Wilder tunes he had been composing: "I was very interested because we were doing a lot of cover tunes – we weren't doing a lot of original material – I was really interested." The songs provided material for 1976's 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 were million-sellers in the US.
Despite the slick American sound, Temperton's working surroundings were still far from glamorous. Alan Kirk, a Yorkshire musician with Jimmy James and the Vagabonds who toured with Heatwave in the mid 1970s remembered: "The Always and Forever track was written on a Wurlitzer piano at the side of a pile of pungent washing – sorry to disappoint all the romantics." And producer Barry Blue recalled: "He had a very small flat, so everything had to be done within one room and he had piles of washing, and had the T.V. on top of the organ. It was a nightmare (...) he had trams running outside (...) but he made it, he just absorbed himself in the music and Rod seemed to come up with these amazing songs". In 1977 Heatwave followed up the success of their first album with their second, Central Heating, Barry Blue again producing, and Temperton behind the majority of the songs. It included "The Groove Line", another international hit single. In 1978 Temperton decided to concentrate on writing and left Heatwave, though he continued to write for the band.
Songs written for Michael Jackson
Temperton's work attracted the attention of Quincy Jones, and he asked his engineer Bruce Swedien to check out the Heatwave album. "Holy cow! I simply loved Rod's musical feeling – everything about it – Rod's arrangements, his tunes, his songs – was exceedingly hip," recalled Swedien, also calling Temperton: "the most disciplined pop music composer I've ever met. When he comes to the studio, every musical detail is written down or accounted for in Rod's mind. He never stops until he feels confident that the music we're working on is able to stand on its own". In 1979, Temperton was recruited by Quincy Jones to write for what became Michael Jackson's first solo album in four years, and his first full-fledged solo release for Epic Records, entitled Off the Wall. Temperton wrote three songs for the album, including "Rock with You" which became the second US No. 1 single from the album.
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. Temperton also wrote the spoken word section of the song for the actor Vincent Price. On coming up with the title Thriller, Temperton once said:
I went back to the hotel, wrote two or three hundred titles and came up with 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 visualise it at the top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandising for this one word, how it jumped off the page as 'Thriller'.
Other songwriting successes
Temperton wrote successfully for other musicians, his hits including "Stomp!" for The Brothers Johnson, George Benson's "Give Me the Night", and "Baby, Come to Me" for Patti Austin and James Ingram. He also wrote for Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, The Manhattan Transfer, Mica Paris, and many others.
In 1986 Temperton was nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar for "Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)," which he wrote with Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie for The Color Purple (1985). (Richie won the award for "Say You, Say Me", from White Nights.) He was also nominated for Best Original Score along with the 11 other composers, including Jones, who worked on The Color Purple's score.
Later in 1986 the buddy-cop action-comedy Running Scared was released, featuring five new songs written by Temperton, including "Sweet Freedom", performed by Michael McDonald, and "Man Size Love", performed by Klymaxx. Temperton also composed the film's score.
Personal life and death
On 5 October 2016, Temperton's death was announced after what was described by his music publisher as "a brief aggressive battle with cancer". Temperton had died at the age of 66 in London the previous week and his funeral had already taken place. The exact date of his death was not announced.
|Year||Song||First charting version||Credited co-writer(s) with Temperton||U.S. Pop||US
|UK Singles Chart||Other charting versions, and notes|
|1977||"Boogie Nights"||Heatwave||2||5||2||1992: Sonia, # 30 UK|
| "Too Hot to Handle" /
"Slip Your Disc to This"
|1978||"Always and Forever"||Heatwave||18||2||9|| 1985: Nicole, # 66 R&B|
1990: Whistle, # 9 R&B
1994: Luther Vandross, # 58 US pop, # 16 R&B, # 20 UK
|"The Groove Line"||Heatwave||7||3||12||1999: The Blockster, # 18 UK|
|"Rock with You"||Michael Jackson||1||1||7|| 1996: Quincy Jones, # 74 R&B|
1998: D'Influence, # 30 UK
2006: Michael Jackson, # 15 UK (re-entry)
2009: Michael Jackson, # 54 UK (re-entry)
|"Off the Wall"||Michael Jackson||10||5||7|| 2000: Wisdome, # 33 UK|
2009: Michael Jackson, # 73 UK (re-entry)
|1980||"Stomp!"||The Brothers Johnson||Louis Johnson, George Johnson, Valerie Johnson||7||1||6||1996: Quincy Jones, # 28 UK|
|"Light Up the Night"||The Brothers Johnson||Louis Johnson, George Johnson||-||16||47|
|"Give Me the Night"||George Benson||4||1||7|| 1984: Mirage, # 49 UK|
1996: Randy Crawford, # 47 R&B, # 60 UK
|"Treasure"||The Brothers Johnson||73||36||-|
|"Love X Love"||George Benson||61||9||10|
|"Gangsters of the Groove"||Heatwave||110||21||19|
|"Turn Out the Lamplight"||George Benson||109||33||-|
|"Do You Love Me?"||Patti Austin||-||24||76|
|1982||"Gettin' to the Good Part"||Herbie Hancock||Herbie Hancock||-||47||-|
|"Lettin' It Loose"||Heatwave||-||54||-|
|"Lite Me Up"||Herbie Hancock||-||52||-|
|"Baby, Come to Me"||Patti Austin & James Ingram||1||9||11|| 1984: Stephanie Winslow, #42 Country|
1997: Alexander O'Neal & Cherrelle, # 56 UK
|"Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)"||Donna Summer||Quincy Jones, Merria Ross||10||4||18|
|1983||"Thriller"||Michael Jackson||4||3||10|| 2007: Michael Jackson, # 57 UK (re-entry)|
2008: Michael Jackson, # 35 UK (re-entry)
2009: Michael Jackson, # 12 UK (re-entry)
2010: Michael Jackson, # 68 UK (re-entry)
2011: The Glee Cast, # 38 US, # 23 UK
2011: Michael Jackson, # 79 UK (re-entry)
2012: Michael Jackson, # 49 UK (re-entry)
2013: Michael Jackson, # 42 US, # 49 UK (re-entry)
2014: Michael Jackson, # 35 US (re-entry)
|"Spice of Life"||The Manhattan Transfer||Derek Bramble||40||32||19|
|"Yah Mo B There"||James Ingram & Michael McDonald||James Ingram, Michael McDonald, Quincy Jones||19||5||12|
|1984||"Mystery"||The Manhattan Transfer||102||80||-||1986: Rapture (Anita Baker album)|
|1986||"Sweet Freedom"||Michael McDonald||7||17||12||2002: Safri Duo, # 54 UK|
|"Man Size Love"||Klymaxx||15||43||86|
|1990||"The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)"||Quincy Jones feat. Al B. Sure!, James Ingram, El DeBarge, Barry White||Quincy Jones, Siedah Garrett, El DeBarge||31||1||67|
|1991||"Givin' In to Love"||Patti Austin||-||55||-|
|1993||"Never Do You Wrong"||Stephanie Mills||Vassal Benford, Ron Spearman, Carol Duboc||-||33||57|
|"Two in a Million"||Mica Paris||-||-||51|
|1994||"Vibe" (includes a sample of "Love X Love," from Give Me the Night, 1980)||Zhané||Kier Gist, Renée Neufville||119||33||67|
|1995||"Hey Lover" (includes a sample of "The Lady in My Life," from Thriller, 1982)||LL Cool J||James Todd Smith||3||3||17|
|"You Put a Move on My Heart"||Tamia||98||16||-||First recorded by Mica Paris|
- the Running Scared soundtrack album, 1986 (with Dick Rudolph and Bruce Swedien)
- "We Belong to Love" by Jeffrey Osborne, from Emotional, 1986
- Kiss of Life by Siedah Garrett, 1988 (with Dick Rudolph)
- Back on the Block by Quincy Jones, 1989 (associate producer)
- "Givin' In to Love" by Patti Austin, from Carry On, 1991
- "You Put a Move on My Heart", "We Were Made for Love", "Two in a Million", and "Love Keeps Coming Back" by Mica Paris, from Whisper a Prayer, 1993
- "We Are the Future", from We Are the Future: You Are the Answer, 2004 (with Sunny Levine)
- "Back on the Block", with Andrae Crouch, Quincy Jones, Quincy Jones III, and Bill Summers; "Wee B. Dooinit", with Siedah Garrett, Jones, Mark Kibble, and Ian Prince; "Birdland" (winner of the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement), with Jerry Hey, Jones, and Prince; "Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)", with Hey and Jones; "The Secret Garden", with Garrett, Hey, and Jones, from Back on the Block, 1989
- "You Put a Move on My Heart", with John Clayton; "Rock with You", with Jones, Jones III, and Greg Phillinganes; "Stomp", with Hey and Jones; "Heaven's Girl", with Hey, Jones, and R. Kelly; and "Slow Jams", with Clayton, Hey, and Phillinganes, from Q's Jook Joint, 1995
- "Rod Temperton: Thriller songwriter dies aged 66". BBC News. 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "Rod Temperton, songwriter who wrote Michael Jackson's Thriller – obituary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
- "The Invisible Man: the Rod Temperton Story", narrated by Paul Gambaccini, BBC Radio 2
- De Aston School News. Retrieved 5 October 2016
- "Would 'uke' believe it! The De Aston Michael Jackson with 36 albums". Grimsby Telegraph. 4 April 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 248. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Paphides, Pete Rod Temperton: the effortless orchestrator of the perfect pop illusion The Guardian. October 8, 2016
- "Rod Temperton Dead: ‘Thriller’ Songwriter Dies Aged 66", Huffington Post, 6 October 2016
- "The making of Michael Jackson's Thriller", MusicRadar.com, October 1, 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2016
- Hoffmann, Christian. "Komponist von Michael Jackson war Wormser", Mannheimer Morgen, 18 July 2009, p. 30
- "Rod Temperton - obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- "Michael Jackson: How Rod Temperton invented Thriller". The Daily Telegraph. 26 June 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
- "Various – Running Scared (Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Discogs. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- "Rod Temperton: Thriller songwriter dies". BBC News. 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "Obituary - Rod Temperton, songwriter behind Michael Jackson's Thriller and Rock With You". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 7 October 2016
- Songs written by Rod Temperton, MusicVF.com. Retrieved 7 October 2016
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research.
- Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- "Running Scared [1986 Original Soundtrack]". allmusic.com. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- "Emotional - Jeffrey Osborne". allmusic.com. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- "Siedah Garrett – Kiss Of Life". Discogs. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
- "Quincy Jones - Back On The Block". discogs.com. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- "Billboard: Single Reviews". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 12 October 1991. p. 81. Retrieved 7 October 2016 – via Google Books.
- "Mica Paris – Whisper A Prayer". Discogs. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
- "Various – We Are The Future: You Are The Answer". Discogs. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
- "Quincy Jones - Q's Jook Joint". discogs.com. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- Rod Temperton at AllMusic
- Rod Temperton discography at Discogs
- Six Million Steps – Rod Temperton Special radio show from March 2008
- Six Million Steps – Rod Temperton Special REMIXED radio show from October 2016
- Irreverent website info
- "The Yorkshire Post" article (2006)