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August 23, 2011 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Songwriter Nick Ashford died yesterday. Nickolas 'Nick' Ashford, along with his songwriting and marriage partner Valerie Simpson, wrote dozens of songs performed, covered and interpreted by artists like Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Chaka Khan, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake and Amy Winehouse.

A few of my favorites (please, please, post your own):
Aretha Franklin - Cry Like A Baby
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Your Precious Love (covered by D'Angelo & Erykah Badu)
Marvin & Tammi - You're All I Need to Get By (interpreted by Method Man and Mary J. Blige)
Marvin & Tammi - Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Diana Ross version)
Ashford & Simpson with Teddy Pendergrass - Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand
Marlena Shaw - California Soul (many covers, and a big, big break)

Jay Smooth (previously) and DJ Matthew Africa pick a few favorites. (Ashford and Simpson are also known for their own #1 R&B hit, 'Solid (As A Rock).')
posted by box (37 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
More folks post favorites: Cassandra Wilson likes 'What If' (featuring Maya Angelou) and Dam-Funk enjoys 'It Seems To Hang On.'
posted by box at 8:20 AM on August 23, 2011


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posted by iviken at 8:21 AM on August 23, 2011


Damn.
posted by pracowity at 8:28 AM on August 23, 2011


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Although I'm now an agnostic, I was raised by a mother who was strongly Southern Black Baptist. I hated going to church as a young wolf, for the most part, but, man, do I have some pleasant memories of the singing and the very theater of the experience.

And among my favorite memories is the end of every service: the church would sing the chorus of Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand three times, and people would reach across pews to shake hands and wish peace upon each other. I will never, ever forget that for as long as I live. Thank you very much, Mr. Ashford. Rest in peace.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:30 AM on August 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


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posted by Gelatin at 8:41 AM on August 23, 2011


When I was a cameraman for BET we did a show about black owned and operated restaurants in NYC. We went to P-Dids place, a couple of other places, and we went to Ashford and Simpson's place. Of all the celeb places we went, only Ashford and Simpson were actually at their respective restaurants. They were the most charming, down to earth and friendly people I could imagine and their restaurant was lovely. RIP.
posted by spicynuts at 8:42 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I Don't Need No Doctor, also written by Ashford & Simpson for Ray Charles, has appeared in a variety of arrangements over the years:

Ray Charles 1966

Chocolate Watch Band 1969

Humble Pie 1971

New Riders of the Purple Sage 1972

Wasp 1986

John Scofield 2005* (from That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles )

John Mayer 2007 (appeared on Scofield's album, uses Sco's arrangement on his own tour).

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posted by Herodios at 8:43 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by drezdn at 8:59 AM on August 23, 2011


It's been a tough week so far for songwriters.

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posted by tommasz at 9:04 AM on August 23, 2011


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posted by HandfulOfDust at 9:06 AM on August 23, 2011


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posted by kinnakeet at 9:17 AM on August 23, 2011


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posted by immlass at 9:25 AM on August 23, 2011


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posted by Trurl at 9:29 AM on August 23, 2011


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posted by luckynerd at 9:32 AM on August 23, 2011


Here's a better link to Ray Charles performing "I don't need no doctor"
posted by billcicletta at 9:41 AM on August 23, 2011


He died the same day as Lieber? Not to sound callous, but that seems harmonic. Other interesting combinations of people dying the same day:
John F Kennedy, CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley.
Mel Blanc and Lawrence Olivier.
Lady Di and Mother Teresa.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:52 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, on the 4th of July 1826.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:56 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am going to contribute a link to a favorite Diana Ross tune, Ashford and Simpson's "Surrender." Ross has some serious depth to her catalog, but this one could have been huge.

Man, a shame to lose two of the great songwriters of our lifetimes in the same week.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:00 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Orville Wright and Mohandas Gandhi — Jan. 30, 1948
Sergei Prokofiev and Josef Stalin — May 5, 1953
Orson Welles and Yul Brynner — Oct. 10, 1985
Lorne Greene and Peter Tosh — Sept. 11, 1987
Sammy Davis Jr. and Jim Henson — May 16, 1990
Freddie Mercury and Klaus Kinski — Nov. 23, 1991
Federico Fellini and River Phoenix — Oct. 31, 1993
Milton Berle and Billy Wilder — March 27, 2002
Elia Kazan and Althea Gibson — Sept. 28, 2003
Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman — July 30, 2007

posted by kirkaracha at 11:08 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always loved "Solid as a Rock"...
Rest In Peace, may heaven sing the songs you created in you all too short life.
posted by seawallrunner at 12:23 PM on August 23, 2011


Oh wow, the music of my childhood. Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing have been with me all my mid childhood, teen and adult life. Love You’re All I Need to Get By, Solid, I'm Gonna Make You Love Me, Thanks Nick Ashford!

Loving condolences to his awesome co-writing wife, Valerie, his daughters, Nicole, Asia, friends and family.

Wishing him cosmic resonance.
posted by nickyskye at 1:38 PM on August 23, 2011


Oh, and he was given credit for writing Tears Dry On Their Own that Amy Winehouse did so deliciously.
posted by nickyskye at 1:44 PM on August 23, 2011


Lady Di and Mother Teresa

Nope. August 31 and September 5, respectively, in 1997.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:45 PM on August 23, 2011


Nope.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 16:45 on August 23 [+] [!]


EPON!
posted by eoden at 1:47 PM on August 23, 2011


Thanks for the music, Mr. Ashford.

Say hi to Tammi and Marvin for us.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:55 PM on August 23, 2011


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posted by DaddyNewt at 3:08 PM on August 23, 2011


Marvin and Tammi's version of Ain't No Mountain High Enough is, in my opinion, the single greatest thing to come out of Motown.

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posted by evilcolonel at 3:14 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw these two perform in NYC a few years back at Feinstein's at the Regency, and they blew the roof off the place from the ground floor! One of the best concerts I have ever been to in my whole life. This is very sad news.

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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:16 PM on August 23, 2011


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posted by fuse theorem at 3:33 PM on August 23, 2011


This is sad news, but such good music here! I'll add one of my favorites: The Brothers Johnson's 1978 hit "Ride-O-Rocket," a great slice of soul-funk.
posted by koeselitz at 4:06 PM on August 23, 2011


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posted by lapolla at 4:57 PM on August 23, 2011


Oh man, thank you for the great, great songs. RIP (And throat cancer, what a cruddy way to go.)

My thought go out to his wife, kids, family & friends.

Marvin and Tammi's version of Ain't No Mountain High Enough is, in my opinion, the single greatest thing to come out of Motown.

And that would be saying a lot. (I personally am not certain I could decide between several of the Motown classics.)
posted by NorthernLite at 5:51 PM on August 23, 2011


Tammi & Marvin singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" on Carson, 1967.

It starts out a little shaky, but then the first refrain ignites their obvious chemistry, and they just take off. Great stuff. Great song.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:46 PM on August 23, 2011


I am always in the mood for Stuff Like That (YouTube) (Spotify).
posted by Monochrome at 7:21 PM on August 23, 2011


Tammi & Marvin singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" on Carson, 1967.

They pull it off, but it suffers without the Funk Brothers and the Detroit Symphony. (Doc may not have taken over the NBC Orchestra just yet... normally those cats COOKED.)
posted by evilcolonel at 8:02 PM on August 23, 2011


These are some nice compositions. The horn arrangements on ain`t no mountain high enough are pretty slick which remind me of Glenn Miller somehow.

./`./`./`./` _--_
posted by Meatafoecure at 8:04 PM on August 23, 2011


Ain't No Mountain - minus the vocals: Gaye/Terrell version
Diana Ross version -- this dramatic reworking was Ashford and Simpson's doing as well. Berry Gordy HATED it and wanted to put the big chorus up front, but relented due to demand from radio stations for a shorter version of the album cut, dramatic buildup and all.
posted by evilcolonel at 8:15 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


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