'Thriller' songwriter Rod Temperton dies aged 66

Temperton was also a record producer and keyboard player

'Thriller' songwriter Rod Temperton dies aged 66

Rod Temperton and his wife Kathy. Image: Yui Mok PA Wire/Press Association Images

Rod Temperton, the songwriter behind Michael Jackson's Thriller and Rock With You, has died aged 66, his music publisher says.

Temperton died of cancer last week, according to Jon Platt, chairman and chief executive Warner/Chappell.

"His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times," said Mr Platt, adding that the funeral was private.

Temperton, also a record producer and keyboard player, began his career as a member of the disco band Heatwave.

For the group, he wrote the 1970s hits Always And Forever and Boogie Nights.

Over the course of a career that spanned decades, he worked with the likes of Anita Baker, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin and the Brothers Johnson, among others.

He was often referred to as the "Invisible Man", said Mr Platt.

But he was best known for his work with Jackson.

He wrote songs for Off The Wall, the critically acclaimed album from 1979, and later for the album Thriller, including the title track.

Thriller, released in 1982, remains the best-selling album of all time.

Other highlights include Give Me The Night and Sweet Freedom.

Temperton also received an Oscar nomination with Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones for a song, called Miss Celie's Blues, they co-wrote for the Steven Spielberg movie The Color Purple.