Nick Ashford, half of the legendary Motown song production duo Ashford and Simpson, died on Monday, a friend and former publicist said.

Ashford, along with his wife Valerie Simpson, formed the songwriting team which produced some of Motown's greatest hits, including Ain't No Mountain High Enough, You're All I Need To Get By, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, and Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand).

Ashford, born in Fairfield County, South Carolina, died in a New York City hospital where he was battling throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment, his publicist and longtime friend, Liz Rosenberg told the Associated Press.

As performers, Ashford and Simpson's best-known song is Solid (1984 US and 1985 UK). The duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.

In recent times, Ashford and Simpson had recorded and toured sporadically. In 1996, they opened the restaurant and live entertainment venue Sugar Bar in New York City and recorded the album Been Found with poet Maya Angelou.

In 2006, Playbill Online reported that they were writing the score for a musical based on E. Lynn Harris's novel Invisible Life.  In January 2007, they, along with Tina Turner, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Sidney Poitier, director Spike Lee and comedian Chris Tucker, accompanied Oprah Winfrey when she opened her school for disadvantaged girls in South Africa.

Amy Winehouse's 2007 CD Back to Black gave the duo writing credit for the single Tears Dry On Their Own. The track is based on a sample of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1967 Motown classic hit Ain't No Mountain High Enough. In January 2009, they released a CD and DVD of their live performances titled The Real Thing.