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Ashford & Simpson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ashford & Simpson
Ashford & Simpson in New York City, March 2000
Ashford & Simpson in New York City, March 2000
Background information
OriginNew York, New York, U.S.
Years active1964–2011
LabelsMotown, Warner Bros., Capitol
Past membersNickolas Ashford (deceased)
Valerie Simpson

Ashford & Simpson were an American husband-and-wife songwriting, production, recording duo composed of Nickolas Ashford (May 4, 1941 – August 22, 2011[1][2]) and Valerie Simpson (born August 26, 1946).[3]

Ashford was born in Fairfield, South Carolina, and Simpson in the Bronx, New York City. Afterwards, his family relocated to Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he became a member of Christ Temple Baptist Church. While there, he sang with a group called the Hammond Singers (named after the founding minister, James Hammond). Later, Nickolas attended and graduated from Willow Run High School in Ypsilanti, Michigan, before pursuing his professional career, where he would ultimately meet his wife, Valerie. They met at Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church in 1964. After having recorded unsuccessfully as a duo, they joined an aspiring solo artist and former member of the Ikettes, Joshie Jo Armstead, at the Scepter/Wand label, where their compositions were recorded by Ronnie Milsap ("Never Had It So Good"), Maxine Brown ("One Step at a Time"), as well as the Shirelles, The Guess Who, and Chuck Jackson. Another of the trio's songs, "Let's Go Get Stoned," gave Ray Charles a number one U.S. R&B hit in 1966. That same year, Ashford & Simpson joined Motown, where their best-known songs included "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 and Simpson wrote many other hit songs, including Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman" (1978) and "Is It Still Good to Ya?", originally recorded by the duo in 1978 and covered by Teddy Pendergrass in 1980.

As performers, Ashford & Simpson's best-known duets are "Solid" (1984) and "Found a Cure" (1979). The duo were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. They are also recipients of The Rhythm & Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award, ASCAP Founders Award, and the Grammy Trustee Award.[4][5] Rolling Stone ranked them No. 19 on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time.[6]

Nick Ashford was also a sometime actor, having appeared as Reverend Oates in the movie New Jack City.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
    22 198
    6 681
    648 032
    121 942
    1 300
  • Ashford & Simpson - Solid | Het verhaal achter het nummer | Top 2000 a gogo
  • Young Pulse tribute to Ashford & Simpson (Ep#14) - Defected Broadcasting House
  • Nick Ashford's star-studded funeral in Harlem, NY captured by
  • Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson On: Marvin Gaye: Writers Of Ain't No Mountain High Enough
  • Ashford and Simpson - rare interview (1987)




The duo essentially had two careers: one as a successful writing and producing team and the other as singers and performers themselves. They started their career in the mid-1960s, writing for artists such as the 5th Dimension ("California Soul"), Aretha Franklin ("Cry Like a Baby"), and Ray Charles ("Let's Go Get Stoned").[7] Their work with Charles brought them to the attention of Motown chief Berry Gordy.[7]

Upon joining the Motown staff in 1966, Ashford & Simpson were paired with the vocal duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and they wrote and/or produced all but one of the late-1960s Gaye/Terrell singles, including hits such as the original version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Your Precious Love", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", and "You're All I Need to Get By".[7] According to Gaye in the book Divided Soul, Simpson did most of the vocals on the last album he did with Terrell, Easy, as a way for Terrell's family to have additional income, as she was battling an ultimately fatal brain tumor. Though Louvain Demps, singer of the Andantes, has stated that she saw Terrell recording the album, and Simpson is quoted as saying, in a book written by Terrell's sister, Ludie Montgomery, what they saw was her singing the guide tracks for the album, which were later replaced by Tammi's own vocals.

Ashford & Simpson wrote and produced almost all the songs on three 1970s albums for former Supreme Diana Ross, including her first solo album Diana Ross ("Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)")[8] and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", Surrender ("Remember Me"), and The Boss.[7] All three albums were critically acclaimed with Diana Ross, her 1970 album debut, and The Boss being certified platinum and "Surrender" certified gold.

Other Motown artists whom Ashford & Simpson worked with include Gladys Knight & the Pips ("Didn't You Know You'd Have to Cry Sometime", and after Motown they wrote and produced for this group "Landlord", "Bourgie, Bourgie", and "Taste of Bitter Love"), Smokey Robinson & the Miracles ("Who's Gonna Take the Blame"), Syreeta Wright ("I Can't Give Back the Love I Feel for You"), the Marvelettes ("Destination: Anywhere"), Martha Reeves & the Vandellas ("Tear It On Down"), the Dynamic Superiors ("Shoe, Shoe Shine"), Blinky Williams ("I Wouldn't Change the Man He Is"), and the Supremes with the Four Tops (original duets, plus the production of a hit cover of Phil Spector's "River Deep-Mountain High").

Other artists with whom Ashford & Simpson had hits were Teddy Pendergrass ("Is It Still Good to Ya"), the Brothers Johnson ("Ride-O-Rocket"), Stephanie Mills ("Keep Away Girls"), Chaka Khan, both on her own ("I'm Every Woman" and "Clouds"), and with Rufus ("Keep It Comin'" and "Ain't Nothin' But a Maybe").


Ashford & Simpson's career as recording artists began in the early 1960s as part of the gospel group the Followers, with whom they recorded the album Gospel Meeting (on Forum Circle), later issued as Meetin' The Followers (on Roulette Records). The LP contains their vocals and also four Ashford compositions. In 1964, they recorded "I'll Find You", as "Valerie & Nick". That was followed by several obscure singles recorded by Ashford on the Glover, Verve and ABC labels, such as "It Ain't Like That" (later recorded by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas), "California Soul", and "Dead End Kids", backed by his own version of "Let's Go Get Stoned".

Simpson appeared (with Melba Moore) as part of the "Blood, Sweat & Tears Soul Chorus" on the band's debut album Child Is Father to the Man in 1968. After concentrating on working with other artists, Simpson was the featured soloist on the songs "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "What's Going On" on the Quincy Jones albums Gula Matari in 1970, and its follow-up, Smackwater Jack.

Simpson subsequently recorded two solo LPs for Motown: Exposed in 1971, and, the following year, Valerie Simpson, which included the single "Silly, Wasn't I", which was later sampled on 50 Cent's "Best Friend" from the movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. The song was also sampled by 9th Wonder on Murs's "Silly Girl" in the album, Murray's Revenge. Ashford & Simpson were featured singing selections from Simpson's solo albums on the PBS TV show Soul!, hosted by Ellis Haizlip in 1971. In 1973, they left Motown after the albums Simpson recorded for the label received poor promotion, and the company refused to release an album of the duo recording a collection of their most famous songs for other artists.

In 1974, Ashford and Simpson married after resuming their career as a duo,[7] with the Warner Bros. album Gimme Something Real released in 1973, followed in 1974 by I Wanna Be Selfish. In 1975, Simpson sang backing vocals on Paul Simon's number-one hit "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", and in 1976 they released Come As You Are. 1977 saw the release of two albums – So So Satisfied and Send it. This was followed by the hit singles "Send It", "Don't Cost You Nothin'" (1977), "It Seems To Hang On" (1978), "Is It Still Good To Ya" (1978), "Found a Cure" (1979), "Street Corner" (1982), and their biggest hit, "Solid", released in 1984.[7]

In 1978, they were featured as vocalists, along with Chaka Khan, on the hit single "Stuff Like That" from Quincy Jones' Sounds... And Stuff Like That album and contributed to the writing of the soundtrack to The Wiz. The duo appeared as themselves in "Nocturne", a 1986 episode of the popular television series The Equalizer.

On his own, Ashford (along with Frank Wilson) produced the hit "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me", which Diana Ross & the Supremes recorded in collaboration with the Temptations in 1968. He also appeared in the movie New Jack City (1991), as Reverend Oates, an ordained minister who was part of Nino Brown's entourage.

Simpson's brothers were in the record business as well: Ray Simpson replaced Victor Willis in the Village People and their brother Jimmy Simpson produced the group GQ (which had big hits with "Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)" and "I Do Love You"), and was in great demand as a mixing engineer during the disco era.

Recent years and Ashford's death

In latter times, Ashford & Simpson recorded and toured sporadically, and in 1996, they opened a restaurant and live entertainment venue, Sugar Bar in New York City, with an open mic on Thursday nights, where performers included Queen Latifah, Vickie Natale and Felicia Collins. Ashford & Simpson recorded the album Been Found with poet Maya Angelou in 1996.[9] Around that time, they were also featured disc jockeys on New York radio station WRKS.

On August 16, 2006, Playbill Online reported that they were writing the score for a musical based on E. Lynn Harris's novel Invisible Life.[10] In January 2007, they, along with Tina Turner, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Sidney Poitier, director Spike Lee, and comedian Chris Rock accompanied Oprah Winfrey when she opened her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

They were given writing credit on Amy Winehouse's 2007 CD Back to Black for the single "Tears Dry on Their Own". The track is based on a sample of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1967 Motown hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". They had begun performing their act in small, intimate venues, such as Feinstein's at the Regency in New York and the Rrazz Room in San Francisco, and in January 2009, they released a CD and DVD of their live performances titled The Real Thing. On June 22, 2009, they made a guest performance at a party at Tribeca Rooftop, New York, to celebrate Virgin Atlantic's birthday party. They also made their first appearance in Tokyo, Japan, in November 2009, and performed eight shows in four days at Blue Note Tokyo.

At President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, Ashford and Simpson rewrote their song, "Solid", as "Solid as Barack". They dedicated it to him at his inaugural festivities.

Ashford died at the age of 70 in a New York City hospital on August 22, 2011, four days before Valerie Simpson's 65th birthday, of complications from throat cancer. His publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said that he had undergone radiation therapy to treat his illness.[11][12]

Simpson released a new solo album in June 2012, called Dinosaurs Are Coming Back Again, which also features the last recorded performance of Nina Simone, a second duet with Roberta Flack and an instrumental version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".

In 2014, Simpson made a guest appearance on the title track to Kindred the Family Soul's album A Couple Friends.

In May 2014, Simpson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.[13]

Personal life

Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson had two daughters, Nicole (born in 1975), and Asia (born in 1987).[14] Nicole graduated from Wesleyan University in 1997.[15]

Awards and nominations

In 1969, Ashford and Simpson won three BMI Awards for the songs "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," and "Your Precious Love."[16]

Ashford and Simpson were inducted Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. They were also recipients of The Rhythm & Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award in 1999, and ASCAP's highest honor, the Founders Award, which they received in 1996.[5]

Grammy Awards

Ashford and Simpson were nominated for three Grammy Awards.[17] In 2019, they received the Grammy Trustees Award.[18][4]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1985 Ashford And Simpson Best Video, Short Form Nominated
1986 Solid Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated
1987 Real Love Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated


Studio albums

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications Record label

1973 Gimme Something Real 156 18 Warner Bros.
1974 I Wanna Be Selfish 195 21
1976 Come as You Are 189 35
1977 So So Satisfied 180 30
Send It 52 10 53
1978 Is It Still Good to Ya 20 1 43
1979 Stay Free 23 3 71
1980 A Musical Affair 38 8
1982 Street Opera 45 5 Capitol
1983 High-Rise 84 14
1984 Solid 29 1 13 47 11 25 17 15 42
1986 Real Love 74 12
1989 Love or Physical 135 28
1996 Been Found 49 Hopsack & Silk
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1981 Performance 125 45 Warner Bros.
2009 The Real Thing 59 Burgundy
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums

  • The Best of Ashford & Simpson (1993, Capitol)
  • Capitol Gold: The Best of Ashford & Simpson (1996, Capitol)
  • The Gospel According to Ashford & Simpson: Count Your Blessings (1996, EMI)
  • The Very Best of Ashford & Simpson (2002, Warner Bros./Rhino)
  • The Warner Bros. Years: Hits, Remixes & Rarities (2008, Rhino)
  • Love Will Fix It: The Warner Bros. Records Anthology 1973-1981 (2018, Groove Line)


Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications Album


1964 "I'll Find You" [A] 117
"Don't You Feel Sorry" [A]
"It Ain't Like That" [A]
1973 "(I'd Know You) Anywhere" 88 37 Gimme Something Real
1974 "Have You Ever Tried It" 77
"Main Line" 37 I Wanna Be Selfish
"Everybody's Got to Give It Up" 53
1975 "Bend Me" 73 Gimme Something Real
1976 "It'll Come, It'll Come, It'll Come" 96 Come as You Are
"Somebody Told a Lie" 58
"One More Try" 9
"Tried, Tested and Found True" 52 34 So So Satisfied
1977 "So So Satisfied" 27
"Over and Over" 39
"Send It" 15 Send It
1978 "Don't Cost You Nothing" 79 10 23 58[A]
"By Way of Love's Express" 35
"Stuff Like That" (with Quincy Jones & Chaka Khan) [B] 21 1 23 24 34 Sounds...and Stuff Like That!!
"It Seems to Hang On" 2 48 Is It Still Good to Ya
"Is It Still Good to Ya" 12
1979 "Flashback" 70
"Found a Cure" 36 2 1 65 37 Stay Free
"Nobody Knows" 19
"Stay Free"
1980 "Love Don't Make It Right" 6 7 A Musical Affair
"Happy Endings" 35
1981 "Get Out Your Handkerchief" 65
"It Shows in the Eyes" 34 Performance
"It's the Long Run"
1982 "Street Corner" 56 9 11 Street Opera
"Love It Away" 20
1983 "I'll Take the Whole World On"
"High-Rise" 17 41 High-Rise
"It's Much Deeper" 45
1984 "I'm Not That Tough" 78
"Solid" 12 1 15 4 5 2 3 1 3 3 Solid
1985 "Outta the World" 102 4 4
"Babies" 102 29 53 56
1986 "Count Your Blessings" 84 4 79 Real Love
"What Becomes of Love"
1987 "Nobody Walks in L.A."
1989 "I'll Be There for You" 2 Love or Physical
"Cookies and Cake"
1990 "Hungry for Me Again" 40 Def by Temptation
1996 "Been Found" 80 Been Found
1997 "What If" 94
2001 "We Are Family" (with Various Artists)
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
  • A Singles credited to Valerie & Nick
  • B Ashford & Simpson and Khan sang uncredited co-lead vocals on "Stuff Like That"

Solo recordings

Valerie Simpson

Listed below are solo recordings made by Valerie Simpson.

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1971 Exposed 159 30 Tamla
1972 Valerie Simpson 162 50
2012 Dinosaurs Are Coming Back Again Hopsack & Silk
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
Year Single Peak chart positions Album
1971 "Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow" Exposed
1972 "Silly Wasn't I" 63 24 Valerie Simpson
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Nick Ashford

Listed below are solo recordings made by Nick Ashford.

  • 1966: "I Don't Need No Doctor"
  • 1967: "When I Feel the Need"
  • 1968: "California Soul"
  • 1970: "Dead End Kids"

See also


  1. ^ Chart position is from the official UK "Breakers List".
  1. ^ Associated Press, "Nick Ashford of Ashford & Simpson songwriting team dies at 70" Archived September 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2011.
  2. ^ All Music Guide to Soul: The Definitive Guide to R&B and Soul, Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine. Backbeat Books, 2003, ISBN 978-0-87930-744-8 (p. 17).
  3. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Biography: Ashford & Simpson". Allmusic. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Trustees Award". Recording Academy Grammy Award.
  5. ^ a b "ASCAP Founders Award". Archived from the original on July 4, 2014.
  6. ^ "20 Greatest Duos of All Time". Rolling Stone. December 17, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Soul Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 9/10. ISBN 0-85112-733-9.
  8. ^ George-Warren, Holly and Patricia Romanowski. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. NY: Touchstone, 2001, p. 29.
  9. ^ Jessica Letkemann, "Maya Angelou's Life in Music: Ashford & Simpson Collab, Calypso Album & More (Listen)" Archived September 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Billboard, May 28, 2014.
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew (August 16, 2006). "Ashford & Simpson to Debut Songs from Invisible Life Musical at Feinstein's". Archived from the original on January 13, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  11. ^ Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press. "Songwriter Nick Ashford dies; had throat cancer". BET. Archived from the original on September 3, 2014.
  12. ^ Ben Sisario (August 22, 2011). "Nick Ashford, of Motown Writing Duo, Dies at 70". New York Times. Archived from the original on April 10, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  13. ^ "Valerie Simpson to Receive Honorary Music Degree from Berklee". April 30, 2014. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016.
  14. ^ "Nick Ashford of legendary duo Ashford & Simpson dies at 69". BelleNews. August 23, 2011. Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  15. ^ "The Tenth Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium". Alumni of Color Network – Fall 2002 Newsletter Vol. 3 No. 1. Wesleyan University. October 19, 2002. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  16. ^ "BMI Awards to 58 R&B Writers" (PDF). Billboard. April 16, 1969.
  17. ^ "Ashford and Simpson". Recording Academy Grammy Awards.
  18. ^ Grein, Paul (May 7, 2019). "Ashford & Simpson Will Be the 11th Songwriting Team to Receive the Recording Academy's Trustees Award". Billboard. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g "US Charts > Ashford & Simpson". Billboard. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  20. ^ a b "AUT Charts > Ashford & Simpson". Ö3 Austria Top 40. Archived from the original on February 9, 2016. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  21. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Ashford & Simpson". RPM. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  22. ^ a b "GER Charts Search > Ashford & Simpson". GfK Entertainment Charts. Archived from the original on May 31, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  23. ^ a b "NLD Charts > Ashford & Simpson". MegaCharts. Archived from the original on February 19, 2016. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  24. ^ a b "NZ Charts > Ashford & Simpson". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  25. ^ a b "SWI Charts > Ashford & Simpson". Swiss Music Charts. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  26. ^ a b "UK Charts > Ashford & Simpson". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on February 22, 2016. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  27. ^ a b c d "US Certifications > Ashford & Simpson". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  28. ^ "UK Certified Awards Search > Ashford & Simpson". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  29. ^ "CAN Certifications > Ashford & Simpson". Music Canada. April 1985. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  30. ^ a b c d "US Charts > Valerie Simpson". Billboard. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 28 November 2023, at 00:25
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