Nick Ashford, who was half of the songwriting team Ashford & Simpson (wife Valerie Simpson is the "Simpson"), died today at age 70. The duo wrote songs like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "You're All I Need To Get By", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," "I'm Every Woman," and, their hit, "Solid."
His "longtime friend and former publicist Liz Rosenberg" spoke to the AP and said he died in NYC hospital; "he had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment." The couple owned a West 72nd Street restaurant and bar, Sugar Bar, and this past May, Simpson serenaded Ashford for his birthday:
Ashford, who was born in 1942 in South Carolina, met Simpson while they were in the choir at Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church in 1963. According to Wikipedia, "They started their career in the mid-1960s, writing for artists such as The 5th Dimension ("California Soul"), Aretha Franklin ("Cry Like A Baby"), and Ray Charles ("Let's Go Get Stoned" and "'I Don't Need No Doctor"). Their work with Charles brought them to the attention of Motown chief Berry Gordy. Joining the Motown staff in 1966, Ashford & Simpson were paired with the vocal duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and they wrote and/or produced all but one of the late-1960s Gaye/Terrell singles, including hits such as the original version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Your Precious Love", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", and "You're All I Need to Get By.""
Here are some videos of Ashford and Simpson's work:
Ashford and Simpson, singing "Solid"
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Diana Ross singing "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell singing "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing"
Chaka Khan singing "I'm Every Woman"