'Thriller' Writer Rod Temperton Dies at 66

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Rod Temperton

The former member of Heatwave also worked with Quincy Jones on the Oscar-nominated song "Miss Celie's Blues" from 'The Color Purple.'

Legendary songwriter Rod Temperton, best known for penning such iconic Michael Jackson hits as "Thriller," "Rock With You" and "Off the Wall," died last week at age 66 in London after what a spokesperson described as a "brief aggressive battle with cancer."

Jon Platt, chairman and CEO of Warner/Chappell Music, the legendary songwriter's music publisher, on Wednesday announced Temperton's passing, saying there was a private funeral last week and that "his family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times."

The British composer first broke through as a member of the 1970s disco band Heatwave, writing such hits for them as "Always & Forever" and "Boogie Nights." He left the group in 1978 and began working with Quincy Jones on what would become Jackson's solo breakthrough album, 1979's Off the Wall, for which he also wrote the song "Burn This Disco Out." The collaboration continued on what would become Jackson's most iconic work, 1982's Thriller, for which Temperton wrote the title track, as well as "Baby Be Mine" and "The Lady in My Life."

Temperton and Jones were nominated for a best original song Oscar in 1986 for "Miss Celie's Blues" from The Color Purple, and in that same year he penned Michael McDonald's breakout hit "Sweet Freedom" from the Running Scared soundtrack. Temperton, known as "The Invisible Man," also had a long list of songwriting credits that includes tracks penned for George Benson, Patti Austin, The Brothers Johnson, Donna Summer and Herbie Hancock.

This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.

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