Monday, August 22, 2011

I just found out that Nick Ashford of the incomparable songwriting/production duo, Ashford & Simpson, has passed away of throat cancer at the age of 70. This is sad news for fans and those who have literally grown up to their music. For years, Ashford and his wife, Valerie Simpson, have written and produced some of the greatest songs of all time. Songs that have become anthems within the soundtracks of our lives.

Nickolas Ashford, born in Fairfield, South Carolina on May 4, 1942, moved to Michigan with his family where he was raised. He got his musical start by singing and writing gospel songs for his choir. But it was not until he moved to New York and met Valerie in 1964 at White Rock Baptist Church that it became official that creating music was going to be his lifetime career. And little did he know, this union lasting more than 45 years would lead to them writing hits for some of the world's greatest artists; such as, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, Diana Ross and Ray Charles.

Throughout the beginning of their union in the early 60s, Ashford & Simpson recorded various songs together for Glover imprint. Many of these tunes went unheard, but it wasn't until the mid 60s that they began to receive the attention that they deserved. They wrote Ray Charles's hit "Let's Go Get Stoned" and eventually joined the Motown machine and it is their where they created magic.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell had began recording as a duo around this time and when Ashford & Simpson wrote and produced "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" for them, the rest was truly history. "Your Precious Love" and "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" were just a few of the hits that Ashford & Simpson created for Motown. As time went on, they struck gold with Diana Ross with "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Remember Me". And it just came to my attention that this duo also wrote and produced the woman's anthem, "I'm Every Woman" for Chaka Khan. If it is not already obvious, Ashford and Simpson were literally a match made in heaven.... a musical heaven, that is.

In 1984, Ashford and Simpson finally gained duo success with their international hit, "Solid". This song has went on to be used in multiple movies and commercials and is deemed as one of the greatest love songs of the 80s. Just thinking about their contribution to music makes me so happy. But to know that Ashford is no longer here with us is truly saddening. We thank you so much for all that you have done for music; your legacy will continue to live on forever.



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