Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Members of Rock & Roll Heaven, Part 17

We close our popular feature, which tragically salutes way too many people this year:

Rod Temperton, songwriter and keyboardist of Heatwave, who also wrote "Rock With You" and "Thriller" for Michael Jackson, died of cancer in London in September (exact date not known at this time) at age 68.

Heatwave broke onto the scene with the #2 smash "Boogie Nights" in 1977.

After Heatwave split, Temperton turned full attention to songwriting.  In 1979, producer Quincy Jones approached him to write songs for Jackson's album Off the Wall, and "Rock With You" became a big hit for Michael.

Temperton returned to help with the album Thriller, also co-writing the title song.

Temperton's other songwriting credits include "Give Me The Night" for George Benson and "Sweet Freedom" for Michael McDonald and also writing for Aretha Franklin and Donna Summer.

T.J. Tindall, guitarist for MFSB, died January 26 of cancer.  

Tindall, one of the great exponents of the Philadelphia Sound, was one of 30 studio musicians at Sigma Sound Studio in Philly called MFSB.  They recorded their own music in 1974 and enjoyed one of The Top 100 Instrumentals of the Rock Era* with "TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia").

Tindall and MFSB worked closely with producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, playing for the O'Jays, the Intruders, Teddy Pendergrass, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and the Three Degrees, among others.  

Tindall also worked with Robert Palmer on his album Double Fun.

Another song in which you can hear Tindall's guitar is Lou Rawls' #2 song "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine".

Tindall played guitar on "Disco Inferno" by the Trammps.

Tindall also played for the Jacksons ("Enjoy Yourself"), Temptations, Bonnie Raitt and Eddie Kendricks.  Tindall was 65.

Pat Upton (top, above), who wrote "More Today Than Yesterday", died July 27 in Geraldine, Alabama at the age of 75.

Upton, singer, songwriter and guitarist with the group Spiral Starecase, sang lead on their 1969 hit.

Later, Upton was a backup singer and guitarist for Ricky Nelson, playing guitar on Nelson's final album.  

Bobby Vee, one of the great performers early in the Rock Era, died October 24 of complications of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 73 in Rogers, Minnesota.
Vee was diagnosed with the disease in 2011 and performed for the last time July 3, 2011 at Joetown Rocks in St. Joseph, Minnesota.  Vee lost the ability to speak shortly after that.

When Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) died in a 1959 plane crash en route to another performance of their Winter Dance Party tour in Moorhead, Minnesota, Bobby Vee stepped in and launched his career.

Bobby scored the biggest hit of his career the next year.  "Take Good Care Of My Baby" zoomed to #1 for three weeks and sold over one million copies.

In 1963, Vee achieved the #3 song "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes".

Vee went on to post 38 hits from 1959 to 1970.  

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