Rod Temperton, "Thriller" songwriter, is dead at 66

LONDON -- Songwriter and musician Rod Temperton, who wrote “Thriller” and other Michael Jackson classics as well as the rhythm and blues standard “Always and Forever,” has died of cancer in London at 66.

His music publisher said in a statement Wednesday that Temperton had died last week of an “aggressive” cancer. No other details were provided.

Jon Platt of Warner/Chappell said Temperton was the sole writer of “Thriller,” ‘’Off the Wall,” ‘’Rock with You” and other major songs.

Temperton started his career in the disco band Heatwave and collaborated with Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Anita Baker and many others.

He was best known as a songwriter and worked closely with producer Quincy Jones on groundbreaking tracks for Jackson’s mega-selling “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” albums. Platt said Temperton was sometimes known as “the invisible man” for his behind-the-scenes role.

Temperton helped write “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister),” an Oscar-nominated song from the soundtrack of “The Color Purple.” He also wrote “Boogie Nights” for Heatwave.

In 2009, The Guardian newspaper described Temperton as a “reclusive, Grammy-winning genius who has always shunned the spotlight.” The newspaper said he was rarely seen in public and was rarely photographed.

In a 2006 interview, he told BBC radio that he had been lulled to sleep as a baby by the sound of music on a transistor radio placed in his crib. Temperton came from the seaside town of Cleethorpes,180 miles (290 kilometers) north of London.

Platt said Temperton’s family is “devastated” and is planning a private funeral. He said they are requesting privacy at “the saddest of sad times.”