Music

Songwriter Nick Ashford Leaves a Vault of Timeless Motown Classics

Tue., Aug. 23, 2011 12:02 AM EDT
by Terry Shropshire

Hall of Fame songwriters, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson

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.

terry shropshire

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1368361184 Sherri Etienne

    Sad… Together they were musical genius. My heart goes out to his family.

  • Uncle Chuck

    Nick Ashford, may he rest in peace, exemplified class both professionally and personally, a dying trait in the entertainment industry; alas.

  • Eervin44

    My Prayers goes out to the family, Praise God for a long Marriage & Obeying Gods Word; Until Death do you part, What a beautiful couple they were stood by each other side thru the ups & down, Wow! 70 years old what a blessing, they both still looked good:) Valrie just keep the faith and know that God is on your side, your tears will turn to Joy looking back over your life remembering the good times you had with your Husband, Traveling the World & Performing Together Life Is So Amazing:) Love you…

  • Anonymous

    They wrote and sang beautiful music together.  My prayers go out to his family.  He will be missed.  I would also like to add that it was quite refreshing to see a loving couple stay married throughout their life.  We don’t see that often enough.

  • Dennis Wicks

    Music will never be the same without the genius of Nicholas Ashford!  Truly a gentle giant and madly in love with Valerie and his daughters till the end.  We will miss you Nick!  God must have needed a wide smile, a warm embrace, and a soulfoul sound.  May your family find great peace in all the happy memories.