Rod Temperton, the songwriter behind several of Michael Jackson's hits, including "Thriller" ... has died after a brief battle with cancer.
The chairman of Warner/Chappell made the announcement Wednesday morning ... though it appears Temperton died days earlier. His family has already had his funeral.
"Thriller" producer Quincy Jones brought in Temperton to write or co-write "Thriller," "Baby Be Mine" and "The Lady in My Life." He also penned "Off The Wall" and "Rock With You" for MJ.
The Brit was an established hitmaker before Jackson, writing hits for Heatwave, George Benson and Patti Austin and James Ingram.
He won a Grammy for Quincy's "Birdland" in 1990. He was also nominated for 2 Oscars for the 'Color Purple' soundtrack.
Temperton was one of those guys who might not have been a household name -- but he was a legend in the industry, and you know all his hits.