peghamLONDON: The British songwriter who penned Michael Jackson´s hit “Thriller” in the back of a taxi, having started his working life in a frozen fish factory, has died aged 66.

Rod Temperton, who also worked with artists including Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey, died last week after a “brief but aggressive battle with cancer,” said Jon Platt, chairman and chief executive of publisher Warner/Chappell.

Temperton is said to have come up with much of “Thriller” in a taxi as he travelled to the recording studio.

The Quincy Jones-produced album of the same name from which it came broke records when it was released in December of 1982, becoming the first to sell more than 30 million copies in the United States.

Jackson, for whom Temperton also wrote “Rock With You”, died aged 50 on June 25, 2009, from a lethal dose of sedatives.

The cast of the musical “Thriller Live” in London´s West End said theatre lights would be dimmed for five minutes, in memory of Temperton.

“Thank you for the music. The Thriller Live family salute you,” the cast said.

Musician Mark Ronson paid tribute to the songwriter on Twitter: “so devastated to hear that Rod Temperton has passed away. a wonderful man & one of my favourite songwriters ever. thank you for the magic x”.

Temperton was described on social media as “a great British songwriter” by former Culture Club singer Boy George, while rapper LL Cool J said “we have lost a true genius”.

Born in Cleethorpes, northern England, Temperton worked for a while processing fish, before joining disco outfit “Heatwave” for whom he wrote the 1977 hit “Boogie Nights”.

“His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times,” Platt said in a statement. A private funeral has already been held.