Motown Songwriter Nick Ashford Dead at 69

Ashford wrote 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' and 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing' with wife Valerie Simpson

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson perform in 1978
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Nick Ashford, one half of the legendary Motown songwriting team Ashford and Simpson – who penned the classics "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "I'm Every Woman" and "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" – died of throat cancer at a New York City hospital on August 22nd. He was 69. 

Ashford met Valerie Simpson at a New York City church in 1964 and they quickly began writing songs together. They scored their first big hit in 1966 when Ray Charles recorded their track "Let's Go Get Stoned" and brought it to Number One on the R&B chart. They began writing for Motown that same year, and hit it big in 1967 with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." The song was originally recorded by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, but Diana Ross recorded it in 1970 and made it her first solo Number One single on the Hot 100.

Over the next few years Ashford and Simpson continued to regularly write for Diana Ross, as well as Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson and the Marvelettes. In 1978 they wrote "I'm Every Woman" for Chaka Khan, which was later recorded by Whitney Houston on the soundtrack to the The Bodyguard

In 1974 Ashford and Simpson married each other, and began recording as a duo for Warner Bros. They scored hits with "Don't Cost You Nothin'," "It Seems To Hang On," "Found A Cure" and 1984's "Solid," which hit Number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The hits dried up by the 1990s, but they continued to record and tour until very recently.  

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Photos: A Tribute to Motown Great Nick Ashford