Motown songwriter Nick Ashford dies at 70

Nick Ashford Ashford met his wife, Valerie Simpson, at the White Rock Baptist Church in Harlem

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Motown songwriter Nick Ashford, who penned hits such as Ain't No Mountain High Enough with wife Valerie Simpson, has died at the age of 70.

Ashford, who was being treated for cancer, died in a New York hospital, former publicist Liz Rosenberg said.

Ashford and Simpson met in a church choir and penned a string of hits including You're All I Need To Get By and Chaka Khan hit, I'm Every Woman.

They also had a hit themselves in the 1980s with Solid (As A Rock).

Ashford moved from his native South Carolina to New York to pursue a music career in the early 1960s.

Simpson later inscribed "Nick Ashford slept here" on the park bench he slept on in the city's Bryant Park, when he first came to New York and was homeless.

The couple's breakthrough hit was Ray Charles's Let's Get Stoned in 1966.

Their other hits include Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing, one of several tracks written for duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and Diana Ross's first solo single, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand).

The pair were inducted into the Songwriters Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

"I'm so sad that he's gone," Alicia Keys said in a tribute posted on Twitter: "What a legacy of infectious music."

"His music is unmatched in terms of great songwriting," said Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire.

"They had magic and that's what creates those wonderful hits, that magic. Without those songs, those artists wouldn't have been able to go to the next level."

Ashford and Simpson are also credited as co-writers on Amy Winehouse's track, Tears Dry On Their Own, which contains a sample from Ain't No Mountain High Enough.

Ashford is survived by his wife and their daughters Nicole and Asia. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    A very sad day. Smokey Robinson started it, H-D-H bought it on and Ashford And Simpson delivered a piano-thumping climax to the classic Motown era. I play Motown virtually every day and that will never change. Today, l will start with "California Soul" and end with the full length version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Ms Ross. Thanks, Nick, for giving me musical heaven on earth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Since falling in love with Motown during their early years the Simpson's have provided the musical backdrop to my life. So - thank you very much to a great man & his wife for all that magic you created

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I used to see Ashford and Simson walking around manhattan when I lived there in the eighties and was always amazed by the harmony and love they seemed to share as they walked happily arm in arm together laughing and smiling and enjoying life. My heart goes out to Valerie Simson and her family Not only two great songwriters but two great lovers. Their connection was an inspiration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Nick and Valerie were great songwriters and singers.
    I was going to write to them very soon about there work as I think they were one the 20th century's great songwriters but I also think there song Solid it's such a feel good song.
    I will play Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing in tribute to him today.
    Much love to Valerie and Nicole and Asia at this sad time.


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