The Motown hitmaker and legendary songwriter Nick Ashford died on Monday at age 70, a friend and former publicist said.
Ashford, along with Valerie Simpson, his songwriting partner who later became his wife, formed the songwriting team and were responsible for producing some of Motown's greatest hits, which includes 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, 70, was born in Fairfield County, South Carolina, and was living in Manhattan when he died. He died in a New York City hospital on Monday where he was undergoing radiation treatment for throat cancer, his publicist and longtime friend, Liz Rosenberg told the Associated Press.
But the actual cause of the death was not known immediately. Liz Rosenberg, a friend who is a longtime music publicist announced his death.
Ashford met his wife Valerie Simpson in 1964 at a New York City church and quickly started writing songs together. As performers their first big hit was Let's Go Get Stoned in 1966 when Ray Charles recorded their track and brought it to Number One position on the R&B chart.
That same year they started writing for Motown and hit it big in 1967 with Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell originally recorded the song, but in 1970 Diana Ross recorded it again and made that song her first solo Number One single on the Hot 100.
Ashford and Simpson for the next few years continued to write for Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson and the Marvelettes.
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.
Ashford and Simpson began recording as a duo for Warner Bros after marrying each other in 1974. They achieved hits with Don't Cost You Nothin', It Seems To Hang On, Found A Cure and 1984's Solid.
The duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
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.