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You may not recognize his name, but you're likely to know the hit songs he wrote. Rod Temperton was the musician and songwriter who wrote "Thriller" and "Rock With You" for Michael Jackson, "Give Me The Night" by George Benson, the James Ingram and Michael McDonald duet "Yah Mo B There," and — as a member of the British funk and R&B band Heatwave — classics like "Boogie Nights" and "Always And Forever." Temperton died last week in London following a brief battle with cancer. He was 66.
Often dubbed "The Invisible Man" — he rarely did interviews — Temperton was born and raised in England. Answering an ad in the British music magazine Melody Maker for a keyboard player, he became the primary songwriter for Heatwave, whose debut album Too Hot To Handle caught the attention of Quincy Jones — who in turn enlisted Temperton to write for Michael Jackson.
Throughout his career as a songwriter, Temperton had a magic touch. His songs won several Grammy Awards, and he wrote for Bob James, Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, Brothers Johnson, Rufus, Patti Austin and others. He also collaborated with Quincy Jones on various productions, as well as on Jones' solo albums, including The Dude and Back On The Block.
The grooves that Temperton mined were infectious, rhythmically rich and melodically dynamic. Lyrically, the songs celebrated the groove — both in the heart and on the dance floor. Tonight, when you leave that 9-to-5 up on the shelf, listen to these classics below and, as Michael Jackson sang, "Just enjoy yourself."