Rod Temperton

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Not to be confused with record producer Ted Templeman.
Rod Temperton
Rod Temperton.jpg
Background information
Birth name Rodney Lynn Temperton
Born (1947-10-15) 15 October 1947 (age 68)
Origin Cleethorpes, England, United Kingdom
Occupation(s) Songwriter, record producer
Associated acts Michael Jackson, Heatwave, Quincy Jones

Rodney Lynn "Rod" Temperton (born 15 October 1947)[1] is a British songwriter, record producer and musician from Cleethorpes, England, significant for being keyboardist and main songwriter in funk band Heatwave, and later writing a number of songs performed by Michael Jackson, including "Off The Wall", "Rock With You" and "Thriller".[2]


Temperton said in an interview 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 Luxemburg and I think that had an influence.".[3] Temperton attended De Aston School in 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 in the office of a frozen food company in Grimsby. He soon became a full-time musician however, a keyboard player now, and played in several dance bands, and this took him to Worms in Germany. In 1972 Temperton and guitarist Bernd Springer formed a soul cover band called Sundown Carousel. With Temperton on an old Hammond organ the band performed in clubs and GI bars in cities such as Mannheim.[citation needed] In 1974 he answered an advert in Melody Maker placed by Johnnie Wilder, Jr. and so became a member of the popular funk/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.[4] Temperton played tunes he had been composing to Johnny Wilder, Jr.: "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 memorable ballad, "Always and Forever" – both tracks were million-sellers in the US[5]

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. 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." [6] In 1977 Heatwave followed up the success of their first L.P. with their second, Central Heating, Barry Blue again producing, and Temperton behind the majority of the songs. It included "The Groove Line", another huge selling hit single with the by now familiar Heatwave sound and Rod Temperton hook. In 1978 Temperton decided to concentrate on writing and left Heatwave though he continued to write for the band. In the early 1980s Temperton left Germany and moved to Beverly Hills, California.[7]

In 1979, he 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 1982 Temperton wrote three songs, including the title track, for Jackson's next LP, Thriller, which became the biggest-selling album of all time. On coming up with the title Thriller, Temperton once said:

Temperton was nominated for an Oscar for a song on the soundtrack of the film, The Color Purple, as the co-writer of the song "Miss Celie's Blues".[8]

Songwriting credits[edit]

Temperton wrote/co-wrote for the following singers/bands:[9][10]

  • Klymaxx: "Man-Size Love".
  • C+C Music Factory: "Share That Beat of Love".
  • Angie Stone: "Lovers' Ghetto" (listed as cowriter due to interpolation of "The Lady in My Life").
  • Mariah Carey: "I'm That Chick" (listed as cowriter due to sample of Jackson's "Off the Wall").

Production credits[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rod Temperton – Biography on
  2. ^ a b >26/Jun/2009 Michael Jackson: How Rod Temperton invented Thriller
  3. ^ 'The Invisible Man' The Rod Temperton Story narrated by Paul Gambaccini, BBC Radio 2
  4. ^ 'The Invisible Man' BBC Radio 2 profile
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 248. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ The Invisible Man Radio 2 profile, presented by Paul Gambaccini
  7. ^ Hoffmann, Christian. "Komponist von Michael Jackson war Wormser", Mannheimer Morgen, 18 July 2009, p. 30
  8. ^ Rod Temperton – Awards
  9. ^ allmusic ((( Rod Temperton > Songs > Songs Composed By )))
  10. ^ List of songs written by Temperton ASCAP
  11. ^ Qwest

External links[edit]