Rod Temperton, songwriter, died this week from cancer at age 66. Temperton, a Brit, became well-known in the 1970s and 1980s for writing huge danceable hits for the likes of Michael Jackson, Heatwave, Kool and the Gang, Quincy Jones, and George Benson. His work often featured romantic lyrics and a smoothed-out R&B and Pop flow. This had the duel effect of partly defining the musical era in which his work exploded, as Funk faded from the R&B scene and Pop audiences looked for dance music that wasn’t Disco. His style is distinctive and you can hear Rod’s influence on the songs he wrote or co-wrote. Sadly, I think it was that strong songwriting “voice” that ended his stream of hits, as the smoothed-out style faded from popularity and hip-hop began its dubious reign. Indeed, many of Temperton’s hits were for Quincy Jones-produced vehicles (Chaka Khan, Benson, The Brothers Johnson, James Ingram, Patti Austin), and the two defined the style together. In addition to songwriting, Temperton acted as rhythm and vocal arranger, a key cog in Quincy Jones’s star-making machine.
Rather than detail his life, here are a few of Temperton’s songs. We thank him for leaving his babies behind for us to share and remember. Rest easy, Rod.