The UK Corner

Urban Entertainment from a British perspective

RIP Nick Ashford

Nickolas Ashford

Nick Ashford

Like all fans of good music, I was shocked to hear about the passing of Motown songwriter Nickolas Ashford this week. Ironically his death was somewhat overshadowed in the media by the equally tragic passing of Jerry Leiber who penned many hits for Elvis Presley.

The legacy of both writers is in their catalogues. Ashford, who met his wife and songwriting partner Valerie Simpson in church, wrote classics such as You’re All I Need To Get By and the Chaka Khan hit, I’m Every Woman. As a duet the couple are best known for the 1980s anthem with Solid (As A Rock). They were inducted into into the Songwriters Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Overcoming homelessness at the start of his journey to success, Ashford, and his wife went on to pen songs for the likes of Ray Charles’s (Let’s Get Stoned), Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing), and Diana Ross’s first solo single, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand). Ashford and Simpson also grace the sleeve notes of Amy Winhouse’s Back To Black album with a co-writing credit on Tears Dry On Their Own, which contains a sample from Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

Ashford and Simpson’s last release was the 2009 CD and DVD of their live performances titled The Real Thing.  The 14 track CD with 65 minutes of vibrant live footage is a ticket to experience the musical magic that iconic singer-songwriters Ashford and Simpson embody. Ashford and Simpson are stamped all over modern times being sampled on Mary J Blige and Method Man’s You’re All I Need To Get By, and with a timely remix to Solid (Solid (As Barack), released for Obama’s 2008 inauguration, and parodied on Saturday Night Live, they proved that they remained relevant.

Recipients of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ (ASCAP) highest honour, The Founder’s Award in 1999, Ashford and Simpson’s music is epitomised as being the fine wine of the industry – only sounding better with age. Young and old indulge in their refreshing bridge from old school to new school.

Tributes have poured in from the music world for the musical genius who is survived by his wife and their daughters Nicole and Asia. Due to Hurricane Irene Ashford’s funeral has been delayed until Monday 29 August. Mr Ashford thank you for the inspiration; rest in peace.

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