by Sean Smith
British musician turned songwriter Rod Temperton passed away last week. His family has asked for privacy in the matter, but we know the 66-year-old died in London after a “brief aggressive battle with cancer.” A private funeral has already taken place.
Temperton grew up with a deep love for music. He first fell in love with it as a child when he would fall asleep every night listening to a small transistor radio. He started playing music by drumming in a number of bands while in school. Temperton got his first taste of being a professional musician when he moved to Germany and played in a number of bands in the early 1970s. However, his big break in the business would come in 1974.
While reading the British weekly music magazine Melody Maker, Rod Temperton saw and responded to an advertisement looking for a musician to be a part of a band. That band was the funk and disco band Heatwave and band founder Johnnie Wilder welcomed him to the group as a keyboardist. Temperton also began writing songs for his new band, and when their first album was released the biggest radio singles were written by him.
Heatwave released their debut album Too Hot to Handle in the UK in 1976, and it was also released in the U.S. a few months later in 1977. The band’s first single was called “Boogie Nights” and was written by Rod Temperton. It turned out to be a big hit for the band charting as a Top 5 hit in both America and Britain. Another hit single from the album, also written by Temperton, was the classic slow ballad “Always and Forever.” While this song was not immediately a huge hit for the band, it has stood the test of time and is now considered an R&B standard. It has been covered countless times over the years by a bevy of artists, but perhaps non more famously then when Luther Vandross released a version of the song in 1994.
In 1978, shortly after Rod Temperton and the rest of Heatwave put out a second album in 1977, Temperton decided to leave the group and go out on his own becoming a full-time songwriter. Although, he did continue to write songs for his old band as well. Temperton was soon recruited by Quincy Jones to write songs for Michael Jackson’s 1979 Epic Records debut album Off the Wall. He not only wrote the title track to that album, but also the closing track on the album, “Bun This Disco Out” as well as the big radio hit “Rock With You.” The latter of which became a number one hit on the U.S. charts.
Rod Temperton worked with Michael Jackson once again on his 1982 album Thriller. He wrote three songs on the album; “Baby Be Mine,” “The Lady in My Life” and the album’s title track “Thriller.” The latter of which is arguable the biggest songwriting credit in Temperton’s career. When Temperton wrote “Thriller” (originally titled “Starlight”) he envisioned a talking section at the end of the song. He told Quincy Jones about the idea and Jones suggested getting actor Vincent Price to fill the role, as he was known for having a distinct voice that was synonymous with the horror genre.
So with the somber news of former Heatwave band member and legendary songwriter Rod Temperton passing away recently, this week we take a moment to remember a few of his many accomplishments in the music industry. Enjoy.
From: Too Hot To Handle
“Always And Forever”
From: Too Hot To Handle