Nick Ashford, one-half of the legendary Hall of Fame songwriting duo, Ashford & Simpson, has died from complications from throat cancer in a New York hospital. He was 70.
But Ashford left the world with a slew of classics that will never evaporate from our collective consciousness despite the passage of time.
After meeting Valerie Simpson in a Harlem church in 1963, Ashford & Simpson wrote, produced and performed for various acts until they scored the No. 1 R&B hit, “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” for the late, great Ray Charles which caught the attention of Motown founder Berry Gordy in 1966.
Together, they wrote many of Motown’s most memorable songs, including the immortal “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” for arguably Motown’s most dynamic duo, Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell. They also penned the classics “You’re All I Need to Get By,” and “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” for Diana Ross. For Generation Xers, they are perhaps best known as performers, particularly because of their memorable smash hit “Solid,” which raced to the top of the R&B charts like a rocket in 1984. They also crafted multiple top 10 hits in the ’70s and ’80s including “Outta the World,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Street Corner,” “Found a Cure” and “Love Don’t Make it Right.”
At the peak of their songwriting prowess, Ashford & Simpson wrote entire albums for Diana Ross as well as penned hits for the likes of Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
More than that, Ashford & Simpson were as much partners in marriage as they were in the studio and onstage, providing a shining example of a marriage that could survive the often tumultuous terrain that is the entertainment industry.
Ashford is survived by his wife and two daughters.