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Rod Temperton: The Songsmith

Updated on July 9, 2013


While the name Rod Temperton may not jump out at you like say, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock or George Benson, those same artists’ careers have crossed paths with that of Temperton’s on many occasions. Rod Temperton, for those of you who may not know, is the guy who wrote such hits as Michael Jackson’s “The Lady In My Life,” “Give Me The Night” by George Benson and “Stomp” by The Brothers Johnson, not to mention the title song for what was to become the biggest selling album of all time Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

British-born Temperton started off as a drummer, switching to keyboards later and eventually landing in Germany. After answering an ad he saw in Melody Maker placed by Johny Wilder , he began playing with the funk/disco band that Wilder was assembling called Heatwave. It was the Temperton-penned anthem “Boogie Nights,” which first put Heatwave on the map in The UK and America.

The album from which that song came, “Too Hot To Handle,” also featured a ballad that would go on to become a staple of virtually every R&B radio station’s Quiet Storm format from its initial release until now, “Always And Forever.” This was a sign of things to come, as Temperton showed himself to be equally adept at writing tender ballads or songs designed to get you on the dance floor.

Beginning in the late 70’s with Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall,” Quincy Jones relied heavily on Rod to contribute songs to projects he produced including “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, “Every Home Should Have One” by Patti Austin, “MasterJam” By Rufus and Chaka Khan and Quincy’s own album, “The Dude” in 1981. Throughout the eighties Temperton would be responsible for many hits. One of these, “Baby Come To Me,” by Patti Austin and James Ingram may be considered one of the greatest love duets of all time.

Temperton continued to work in the industry throughout the 80’s and 90’s with his songs finding a new audience thanks to younger artists like Grenique, Whistle and Quincy Jones’ new protégé Tamia in1995. Temperton’s place in musical history is secured even if he never writes another song.

Rod Temperton has given us some of the greatest songs of the last thirty five years. So the next time you hear “Baby Come To Me,” “Rock With You” or “Always And Forever,” remember you are hearing a song written by a true master.

Below I have included a few of my favorite songs written by Rod Temperton:

Treasure-Brothers Johnson

Always And Forever-Heatwave

You Put A Move On My Heart-Quincy Jones Featuring Tamia

Mystery-The Manhattan Transfer

Getting To The Good Part-Herbie Hancock


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