Nick Ashford, one half of the celebrated songwriting duo Ashford and Simpson, died Monday in a New York City hospital. According to publicist and longtime friend Liz Rosenberg per the Associated Press, Ashford had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment. He was 70.
Ashford and Simpson’s first found notable success when they created the gospel-blues infused “Let’s Go Get Stoned” for Ray Charles and caught the ear of Motown Records.
Together the couple went on to pen rich and robust, timeless classics like “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” and “Remember Me,” both for Diana Ross, as well as hip-shaking joints like Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman,” which Whitney Houston later covered. They wrote multiple hits for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, including “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” “You’re All I Need To Get By,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the latter also becoming a hit for Diana Ross, who recorded it with more contemporary instrumentation embraced by pop radio. And they composed some music for The Wiz, starring Ross and Michael Jackson.
Ashford and Simpson enjoyed their own success as recording artists when they started writing for themselves, most notably with the hit single “Solid.” And they continued to dole out hits well into this decade and are credited as co-writers of the late Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry On Their Own.”
Ashford, a South Carolina native, had come to New York City to pursue a dance career, but everything changed in 1964 when he met Simpson, a music student, in New York City’s White Rock Baptist Church. Their relationship endured for more than four decades.
In 2002, Ashford and Simpson were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Nick Ashford is survived by his wife and two daughters. At press time, there is no information on funeral arrangements.