Motown Great Nick Ashford Passes Away at 69

Nick Ashford, Motown legend and one half of the singer-songwriter duo Ashford and Simpson, died of throat cancer Monday in a New York hospital. He was 69. Along with his wife and musical counterpart, Valerie Simpson, they penned several legendary hits like “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need To Get By” and “I’m Every Woman” for such renowned artists as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and Chaka Khan among others. The 1966 #1 R&B hit “Let’s Go Get Stoned” by Ray Charles was their breakthrough record. But the duo also wrote and performed their own songs, breaking out in the late 70s and 80s with songs like “Don’t Cost You Nothing,” “It Seems to Hang On,” “Found a Cure,” “Street Corner” and, perhaps their best know hit, “Solid (As a Rock).” The couple, who had been married since 1974, released their last album in 1996 and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002, slated as “one of the most prolific and versatile musical couples in recording history.” They continued to perform sporadically, particularly at their Manhattan Restaurant, Sugar Bar. When they worked with the late Amy Winehouse on her song “Tears Dry on Their Own,” the pair received songwriting credit as well as the ability to connect with a younger generation of music lovers. Ashford is survived by his wife, Valerie Simpson, and two daughters, Nicole and Asia.