R.I.P. Nick Ashford

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Nick Ashford of the powerhouse songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson passed today from throat cancer. Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson are responsible for writing some of the most important songs of the 20th century including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need To Get By,” “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing,” and “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand.)” The husband and wife team joined Motown’s staff of writers in the ’60’s after Berry Gordy noticed their songwriting for the 5th Dimension, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. At Motown they wrote and produced all but one of the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell hits as well as songs for Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Marvelettes, The Supremes and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. They also wrote “Is It Still Good To Ya” for Teddy Pendergrass and penned Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” and “Clouds.” As performers they had hits with “Don’t Cost You Nothin’,” “It Seems To Hang On,” “Is It Still Good To Ya,” “Street Corner” and “Solid.” Quincy Jones used their vocals on “Stuff Like That” and they helped write songs for “The Wiz” soundtrack. In the ’90’s they opened the Sugar Bar restaurant and bar where many known entertainers came to perform. In ’96 they recorded the album Been Found with Maya Angelou. They were also included in Oprah’s entourage to Africa when she opened her all girls school in 2007.