Nick Ashford, who with wife Valerie Simpson,co-wrote and sang some of music’s best known R&B classics, has died in a New York City hospital after a bout with throat cancer. He was 70.
Ashford had been undergoing radiation treatment, according to publicist Liz Rosenberg.
Ashford and his wife were best known as singing duo Ashford & Simpson. They sang or co-wrote such songs as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “‘Reach Out And Touch Somebody’s Hand,” both made popular by Diana Ross.
The husband and wife team also wrote “I’m Every Woman, sung by ’80s diva Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston and “You’re All I Need To Get By” sung by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
In his later years, Nick and Val were known to New Yorkers as proprietors of the Upper West Side’s Sugar Bar, a gathering spot for celebrities and music fans alike.
Nick and Val often hosted up and coming singers, and their Thursday night open mic shows are legendary.
At times, singers and luminaries such as Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, Raphael Sadiq, Patti La Belle, Dr. Maya Angelou and Queen Latifah would drop by and often sing back up for the singers with Valerie.
The pair was also one of music’s most enduring relationships. They were married for 38 years.
They met in 1964 at a New York City church. Ashford had come to the city from South Carolina to pursue a dance career.
Simpson was a music student, and they decided to write songs together.
“Let’s Go Get Stoned,” sung by Ray Charles, was their first big songwriting success.
As a singing duo, Ashford & Simpson also scored their own hits. Among them was the 1980s anthem “Solid As A Rock.”
Their music was relevant right up to the present day. They are credited as co-writers on Amy Winehouse’s hit “Tears Dry On Their Own.”
Ashford & Simpson was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
“His music is unmatched in terms of great songwriting,” said Earth, Wind and Fire’s Verdine White, in one of many tributes.
“They had magic and that’s what creates those wonderful hits, that magic.”
On Twitter, Alicia Keys wrote: ‘I’m so sad that he’s gone. So many of the greatest are going to a greater place … what a legacy of infectious music … man!”