The thing is, you can’t talk about Nicholas Ashford without talking about Valerie Simpson, his wife and musical partner.  Nick, from South Carolina, and Val met in New York where he joined the choir she was singing in.  They began writing songs together and went on to become two of the greatest songwriters in modern history.  Is that a fairy tale scenario or what?  How sad it was to hear of the passing of such a gifted, nice man.  Nick’s contributions to this music business are far too numerous to mention them all.  Suffice it to say, as half of the Singer/Songwriter/Producer team, Nick and Valerie composed songs that earned them 22 gold and platinum records and 50 songwriting awards.  To top things off, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.  Now that’s a career!

Their spectacular songwriting began when they became writers for Scepter/Wand Records.  In 1966, Ray Charles topped the charts with the # 1 hit penned by Nick, Val and Josie Armstead (former Ikette), “Let’s Go Get Stoned.”  This caught Berry Gordy’s ear and Ashford & Simpson were brought to Motown Records to write and produce for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  They cranked out hits for the duo like, “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing,” “Your Precious Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need” and many more.  They wrote classics for many other artists at Motown and beyond.  Here’s a sampling of the hits Ashford & Simpson wrote:  “Stuff Like That” (Quincy Jones); “I’m Every Woman” / “Ain’t Nothin’ But A Maybe” (Chaka Khan & Rufus); “Didn’t You Know You Had To Cry Sometime” / “Bourgie Bourgie” (Gladys & Pips); “Shoe Shoe Shine” (Dynamic Superiors); “Destination Anywhere” (Marvelettes); “I Wouldn’t Change The Man He Is” (Blinky); “The Boss” / “Reach Out and Touch” / “It’s My House” (Diana Ross); “Don’t Send Nobody Else” (Ace Spectrum); “Who’s Gonna Take The Blame” (Smokey & the Miracles); “Love Woke Me Up This Morning” (Temptations) and on and on.  Nick and Val started singing together before they ever wrote together so they weren’t going to abandon their desires to also perform.  Motown suppressed their hope of singing there so they moseyed over to Warner Bros. Records to record as Ashford & Simpson.  For their own vocal act they composed such great songs as “Don’t Cost You Nothing,” “Send It,” “Solid,” “It Seems To Hang On” and “Is It Still Good To Ya’” (also recorded by Teddy Pendergrass), to name a few.  Check out this live performance of Ashford & Simpson with Johnny Gill.

posted by PopsTake4

Nick Ashford passed on August 22, 2011 of complications from throat cancer and his departure leaves a big hole in the ozone that can never be patched up or plastered over.  He is truly a one of a kind artist that is never replaced… only fondly remembered.  Below, we’ve assembled a random sampling of a handful of songs that were created by Ashford & Simpson.  First up, you’ll see a live performance by Gladys & the Pips.  After that, the videos are the audio recordings from varying artists.  Please take the time to check out even the audio recordings; they will send you all the way down memory lane.  Enjoy the samplings as a MUSICAL TRIBUTE to NICK ASHFORD.  Rest in peace, my brother.  Much love to Valerie in her time of bereavement.  Hang in there music lovers, Nick’s legacy is “Solid… Solid As A Rock!”

Yours musically,
Reuben Yabuku


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In a related sense, we also want to acknowledge and send condolences for the even more recent passing of Esther Gordy Edwards, Berry’s eldest sister and business dynamo in her own right.  She was the Matriarch of Motown.  Smokey Robinson was quoted in another article as saying, “She was very near and dear to my heart, a wonderful person in my personal life.  I loved her very much.  She was one of our top executives, a very important person in Motown.  And it’s because of her that we have the Motown Museum.  We have all the paraphernalia and the pictorial history.  She was taking pictures from the time we started; every step we took as artists, she would take a picture.  We used to think it was humorous – ‘She’s taking another picture!’ — but thank God for her.”