Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In Memoriam: Nickolas Ashford 1942-2011

Singer. Songwriter. One half of the duo Ashford & Simpson. As a songwriter: "Let's Go Get Stoned" "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" "Aint Nothing Like the Real Thing" "You're All I Need to Get By" "I'm Every Woman" As a singer: "Don't Cost You Nothin'" "It Seems to Hang On" "Found a Cure" "Solid".

"One of the guys in the park told me, he said, 'There's a place up in Harlem, where you can get something to eat at White Rock Baptist Church. I went up there and I got my things out of Port Authority. I put water on my jacket and on my suit, to get all the wrinkles out. They didn't know I was homeless when I was in the church, and I saw Valerie."

--Nickolas Ashford. In addition to being a songwriting (she wrote most of the music, while he wrote most of the lyrics) and performing duo, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson were married for 38 years.

If you need me call me
no matter where you are,
no matter how far (don't worry baby)
just call out my name.
I'll be there in a hurry
you don't have to worry
'Cause baby there
Ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

--Performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Diana Ross also had a big hit with it a few years later.

I see your picture
Hanging on the wall
But it can't sing
Or come to me
When I call your name
I realize it's just
A picture in a frame
And I read your letters
When you're not here
They don't move me
They don't groove me
Like when I hear
Your sweet voice
Whispering in my ear
There ain't nothing
Like the real thing
There ain't nothing
Like the real thing

--Performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

When they come with there evilest thoughts i just listen whenever they talk
Jah is the light into my dark, he cut and tear my path
They fight without a cause tryin to make my life so hard
The king of kings and the lord of lords, give it all rewards
Cause I'm so solid as a rock they just can't stop me now
Even when they set up there traps they just can't stop me now
People will say this and that they just can't stop me now
Even when they set up road blocks they just can't stop me now

--Performed by Ashford & Simpson

(First, Jerry Leiber, now Nickolas Ashford. Not a good week for songwriters so far, huh?--KJ)


  1. Oh, this one bothers me. I'm sorry he died.

  2. He's joined Marvin and Tammi in that big Motown recording studio in the sky.

  3. Oh, please don't start me re: Marvin. Marvin and Otis are probably the ones of these dimmed starlights whom I miss most. I wanted to know more about and hear more from them. Gone too soon. With so much left to give.

  4. The summer of 1979 in New York, Tony @ Xenon; Found a Cure, No One Get's the Prize and The Boss, Mancuso @ the Loft; Stay Free, Larry @ the Garage: Once in the Morning. Frankie On WBLS; Nobody Know's the Inside. Ashford & Simpson owned the sounds of the summer.

  5. @Leslie--It's interesting, and perhaps a bit disheartening, to speculate on what kind of music they would have produced had they lived.

    @Anonymous--Sounds like you had a good 1979.

  6. Been busy with family visiting, roof collapsing and daughter moving to Tucson..... goodness.

    What a great but sad post. All of a sudden it seems so many singer/songwriters are dieing ?

    Some great songs.

    cheers, parsnip

  7. I'm a bit late with this but reading your post and I had heard a piece on NPR with Ben E. King talking about Jerry Lieber and Nick Ashford. and what there music meant to him. Very touching. Also so much i din't know of Nick Ashford's songwriting. Thanks for bring this out in your post as well.

  8. @parsnip--I know you've been going through a rough patch. Thanks for commenting.

    @Mike--To be honest, I prefer Ashford's Gaye/Terrell compositions to the stuff he performed himself. Nothing against his singing, but he did that in the '70s and '80s, when the music had changed a bit. But I just LOVE that 1960s Motown sound.

  9. Kirk....
    Sometimes I am a bit late commenting on the blogs I read but I usually get to them. I really enjoy reading you take/slant on the items you post.

    cheers, parsnip