Born Nickolas Ashford on May 4, 1942, he was one half of the powerhouse musical factory that was Ashford and Simpson, a relentless engine of pop music creation that not only put out memorable hits of their own("Solid") but also a string of hits for other performers including (but certainly not limited to) …
- "Let's Go Get Stoned" for Ray Charles
- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, then redone by Diana Ross
- "You're All I Need To Get By" for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and famously sampled by Method Man and Mary J. Blige
- "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" again for Gaye and Terrell
- "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand for Diana Ross
- "Cry Like A Baby" for Aretha Franklin
- "Is It Still Good To You" for Teddy Pendergrass
- "I'm Every Woman" for Chaka Khan
- "Who's Gonna Take The Blame" for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
- A number of songs for Gladys Knight & The Pips including "Taste of Bitter Love"
… contributing to the soundtrack for The Wiz, all of which led to the couple's rightful induction into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2002. He even worked as a mixing engineer during the 70s. A veritable American musical institution, he's one of the architects of decades of soul and pop sound. Add to that an appearance for Ashford in the movie New Jack City as Reverend Oates and you've got a career and a life worth envying.
Nick Ashford died yesterday, August 22nd of complications from throat cancer, just three days before his wife Valerie Simpson's birthday (coincidentally the same day early rock songwriter Jerry Lieber passed away). Ashford is survived by his aforementioned wife and two daughters, Nicole and Asia.
In the words of our ancestors, anedge hirak Nick Ashford, and thank you for everything.