The sad news reached my ears this morning. Nick Ashford has lost his battle with throat cancer and died in a New York City hospital. He was 69.
He was born in South Carolina and migrated to New York where he met his wife, Valerie Simpson. The duo of Ashford & Simpson went on to make a great mark among Motown artists. During their career, 36 of their singles charted, the first in 1964 being credited simply to “Valerie & Nick.” Their best known hit was probably Solid, released in 1984.
This would be great career for any musical artist, but there is more. As well-known as they were, they were probably better known for the great hit songs they wrote for other artists. These greats include Ain’t no Mountain High Enough, recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (later by Diana Ross) and I’m Every Woman by Chaka Kahn, to name a couple. Other great names they have written for include Ray Charles, Amy Winehouse, the 5th Dimension, Gladys Knight, Teddy Pendergrass and Smokey Robinson, to name but a few.
Ashford & Simpson were also owners of Sugar Bar in New York City. This restaurant featured new, up and coming, talent. In 2007, they accompanied Oprah Winfrey to South Africa for the opening of her Leadership Academy for Girls.
Nick Ashford is survived by his wife Valerie Simpson, their daughters Nicole and Asia, and two brothers of significance in the music industry. His brother, Ray, sang with the Village People and his brother, Jimmy, was producer for the group, GQ.
During my show tomorrow, I’ll pay tribute to this Motown great with the following Mini Set…
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1968)
I’m Every Woman, Chaka Kahn (1978)
Solid, Ashrford & Simpson (1984)
Tears Dry on Their Own, Amy Winehouse (2006)Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Diana Ross (1970)