Aug 23, 2011

Songwriting team

I spent all day Monday traveling for work that I missed the news that Nick Ashford of the famed songwriting duo, Ashford and Simpson, passed away. Lord, why ain't nobody tell me!!!! I love me some Ashford and Simpson. I'm an eighties baby so my first experience with Ashford and Simpson was their hit song, 'Solid'. It wasn't until I was older that I realized there was much more to this duo than just that one hit song. Ashford and Simpson songs are timeless tunes that serve as the soundtrack to our lives. From 'I'm Every Woman' to 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough', we all know an Ashford and Simpson song.

I will say for me, one of the other things I admired about Ashford and Simpson is their love and dedication to one another. This dynamic duo was married for 38 years, which in today's world and not just the entertainment world, is a miraculous feat. My heart goes out to Mr. Ashford's wife, Valarie Simpson, and his two daughters. God has just added another beautiful voice and powerful songwriting to the heavenly choir.

Nick Ashford's Obituary (AP)

Nick Ashford, one-half of the legendary Motown songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson who penned elegant, soulful classics for the likes of Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye and funk hits for Chaka Khan and others, died Monday, his former publicist said. He was 70.

Ashford, who along with wife, Valerie Simpson, wrote some of Motown's biggest hits, died in a New York City hospital, said Liz Rosenberg, who was Ashford's longtime friend. He had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment, she told the Associated Press.

Though they had some of their greatest success at Motown with classics such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand" by Ross and "You're All I Need To Get By" by Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Ashford & Simpson also created anthems for others, like "I'm Every Woman" by Khan (and later remade by Whitney Houston).

"They had magic, and that's what creates those wonderful hits, that magic," Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire said after learning of his friend's death. "Without those songs, those artists wouldn't have been able to go to the next level."

Ashford & Simpson also had success writing for themselves: Perhaps the best-known song they sang was the 1980s hit "Solid as a Rock."

Their relationship stretched more than four decades. They met in 1964 in a New York City church; Ashford, who was born in South Carolina in 1941, had come to the city to pursue a dance career. Simpson was a music student, and after connecting with her, they decided to start to write songs together.

"They were always comfortable with each other, and they made all of us comfortable, because they were comfortable," White said.

Their first major success occurred when they came up with "Let's Go Get Stoned" for Ray Charles. That song became a huge hit, and soon, they came to the attention of Motown Records and began penning hits for the label's artists. They started out writing for Gaye and Terrell; in fact, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was originally their hit, until Ross later rerecorded it and made it her signature song.

"The thing is, they were married and working together, that was what was special about them; everybody admired that," White said.

The duo, who were married for 38 years, helped sell millions of records for several artists.

In recent years, the pair continued to perform. They also were owners of the New York City restaurant Sugar Bar, where many top names and emerging talents would put on showcases.

Ashford is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Ashford and Simpson performing 'Solid' (live)
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