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Nick Ashford Passes

NICK ASHFORD, 70, one-half of the legendary Motown songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson with wife Valerie, died Monday of throat cancer in a N.Y. hospital. The duo penned elegant, soulful classics for the likes of Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye and funk hits for Chaka Khan and others. Among the hits penned by the duo were Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” “Reach Out and Tough Somebody’s Hand” and their own “Solid (As a Rock).” Ashford, a dancer from South Carolina and Simpson, a music student, famously met in a New York church in 1964. Their first songwriting success came two years later when Charles recorded their “Let's Go Get Stoned.” They also had a second career as performers, scoring R&B hits with "Don't Cost You Nothing" and "Found a Cure" and an '80s hit with "Solid (as a Rock)." More recently the songwriting duo contributed to Amy Winehouse's “Tears Dry On Their Own.” The pair were owners of the N.Y.C. restaurant Sugar Bar, where many top names and emerging talents would showcase their music. In 2002, Ashford & Simpson were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is survived by wife Valierie and the couple's two daughters. (8/23a)


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