This isn’t a good day for songwriters. First, Jerry Leiber of Leiber-Stoller fame passes away. Now comes word that Nick Ashford of the husband and wife songwriting team of Ashford & Simpson passed away today of throat cancer. He was 70.
Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson are best known for co-writing a string of hits for Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“, “”Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” and my favorite Ashford-Simpson composition “You’re All I Need To Get By.” All three songs charted over a fifteen month period between 1967 and 1968. Ashford & Simpson also composed songs for the likes of Ray Charles, Diana Ross and Gladys Knight & The Pips amongst many others. I like the Fifth Dimension’s take on “California Soul.” They were also performers in their own right scoring their biggest hit in 1984 with “Solid.”
The work of Ashford & Simpson certainly stands up well with other husband-wife songwriting teams of that era such as Goffin & King, Mann & Weill as well as Barry & Greenwich. Ashford & Simpson might very well be the most underrated songwriting team of the rock n’ roll era.
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