Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rest in Peace Nick Ashford (1942-2011)

Nick Ashford was one half of the R&B soul group Ashford and Simpson.

Ashford and Simpson wrote Motown's two favorite "Ain't" songs, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," along with "You're All I Need To Get By."

They also had a long singing career, scoring their biggest chart hit with 1984's "Solid (As a Rock)" and later settling into a long run at clubs and cabarets.

They also owned several restaurant/clubs, including the 20/20 on W. 20th St. and the Sugar Bar on W. 72nd St.

They were a DJ team for several years on WRKS (98.7 FM), playing the kind of music they wrote and sang.

Ashford, a tall imposing man whose signature hair was long, was known as a gentle presence in the music business.

Nickolas Ashford was born in South Carolina and grew up in Michigan. He moved to New York in the early 1960s with $57 in his pocket, hoping to make it in show business.

He was attending Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church when he met Valerie Simpson, a New Yorker who sang in the choir and also had musical ambitions.

They recorded together briefly and unsuccessfully in 1964 as "Valerie and Nick," but had more success with writing songs - which at first, said Ashford, they sold for $75 apiece.

Their first big hit was Ray Charles's "Let's Go Get Stoned," which hit the top 10 on the R&B charts in 1966, and soon after they signed to Motown.

Besides songwriting, they also produced most of Diana Ross's first three solo albums and worked with artists that included Teddy Pendergrass, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson and Chaka Khan.(source)