Motown legend Nick Ashford dies at 70
Sad news for Motown fans today: Nick Ashford, one-half of the legendary Motown songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson that penned elegant, soulful classics for the likes of Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye and funk hits for Chaka Khan and others, died Monday at age 70, his former publicist said.
Ashford, who along with wife Valerie Simpson wrote some of Motown's biggest hits, died in a New York City hospital, said publicist 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 like "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). Ashford & Simpson also had success writing for themselves: Perhaps the best-known song they sang was the 1980s hit "Solid (As A Rock)."
"His music is unmatched in terms of great songwriting," Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire said after learning of his friend's death.
"They had magic and that's what creates those wonderful hits, that magic," White added. "Without those songs, those artists wouldn't have been able to go to the next level."
As a duo, Ashford & Simpson was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. In recent years, they had toured occasionally, often popping up with little publicity to perform a show. Amy Winehouse's album Back to Black gives Ashford & Simpson for Tears Dry on their Own.
Fans of the 1991 movie New Jack City would recognize Ashford for playing the role of Rev. Oates, a corrupt minister who was part of Nino Brown's entourage.
TOP 5 CHARTING SINGLES FOR ASHFORD & SIMPSON in the 80s:
1. SOLID (1984)
2. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS (1986)
3. OUTTA THE WORLD (1985)
4. LOVE DON'T MAKE IT RIGHT (1980)
5. STREET CORNER (1982)
-- Associated Press