Though the name Nick Ashford might not immediately ring a bell, the man’s music most certainly will. Ashford, who, with his wife Valerie Simpson, was one half of the songwriting duo and pop group Ashford & Simpson, passed away Monday after a battle with throat cancer. In his 70 years, he and his wife penned some of the biggest, most pervasive hits of all time.
After “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” their 1966 tune for Ray Charles, became a number one R&B hit, Ashford & Simpson quickly established themselves as songwriting royalty and joined the Motown Staff. They wrote a number of enormous songs for stars like Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need To Get By” and “I’m Every Woman.” An established musician, Ashford recorded percussion for dozens of Motown sessions, including those that produced Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On.” Ashford & Simpson even had a hit of their own in 1984 with “Solid” (you know, as a rock). The duo was also credited on Amy Winehouse’s track “Tears Dry On Their Own,” which borrowed heavily from “Ain’t No Mountain.”
Ashford’s love for music is apparent, but he and Simpson’s love for each other was what impressed their peers most. “The thing is they were married and working together, that was what was special about them. Everybody admired that,” Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire told the Associated Press. Ashford is survived by Simpson, their two children, and his music.
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