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
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    Comment number 17.

    The only album I have by Nick & Valerie was "Is it still good to ya?" with so many strong tracks worthy of single release, especially "It seems to hang on". Unfortunately, that album coincided with Bee Gees-mania so the classy soul was overshadowed by the pseudo stuff from the Gibb brothers.
    A great album from a great duo - AND a great couple. RIP Nick and love to Valerie and children

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    Comment number 16.

    Never heard of you and by the looks of things neither has anyone else

    RIP though.

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    Comment number 15.

    Well of course Nick will be rightly remembered for his work with Valerie at Motown. However, I think that the couple's contributions to other artists work - I'm thinking of their invaluable contributions through collaborations with Steely Dan and also on Donald Fagan's solo efforts - should also get honourable mention. RIP Nick.

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    Comment number 14.

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    Comment number 13.

    I have never been a huge fan, but many of my friends are, and it's always sad when the world loses an artist of this quality, irreplaceable in a world where they are a dying breed.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    I grew up with the Beatles and then came Motown. When I hear some of today's music I'm glad I'm the age I am. Thank you Nick Ashford for filling my life with inspirational music.
    They say your teens are your most important and mine was filled with the magical sounds from Detroit and the songs Nick and his good lady wrote. The music lives forever.

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    Comment number 11.

    Nick Ashford was unique. He brought a sweet poetic romanticism and savvy lyricism to Val's gospel-inspired melodies. Listen to songs like Diana's 'And If You See Him' or Gladys' 'Still Such A Thing' - better yet the duo's own 'Gimme Something Real'. A class act. The world has lost another legend.

  • rate this
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    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.

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    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

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    Comment number 8.

    This is too sad. This is a REAL loss to the music industry and the world. Unlike the younger so called stars who die young because of self inflicted bad habits, Ashford and Simpson have been nothing but first class for FIVE decades. An example that many in the business would do well to follow. His and Valeries work is immortal at least. RIP Nick. You were a one off. THANK YOU!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    Great soul and disco artists such as Diana Ross owe much of their career to the songs of Nick & Valerie Simpson. The melodies and arrangements they wrote for Marvin Gaye on tracks such as 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' and others continue to influence and echo through the current crop of artists such as Duffy and the late Amy Winehouse. That's a testament to great songwriting.

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    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
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    Comment number 5.

    A sad day. All my sympathies to Valerie.

    Motown did two great versions of ANMHE - Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and it's rare that you get two versions that are equally brilliant of the same song.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    Another great loss in music. Rest in peace Nick. Condolences to his family.

    One of my favourite tracks is Street Corner - from the Street Opera album, check it out folks - the bassline is pure grove and his voice is as gorgeous as ever as is Valerie's.

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    Comment number 3.

    Thanks for some great songs. Gonna have a music night toninght and Ashord & Simpson plus Jerry Lieber will feature strongly.

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    Comment number 2.

    His will be a lasting legacy , there cannot be many people that have not heard at least one of his collaborations.
    Thank-you for a lot of pleasure over the years.

    RIP.

  • rate this
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    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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