Nickolas Ashford (May 4, 1942 – August 22, 2011)
Ashford, along with his wife Valerie Simpson, were a songwriting / production team and recording artists in the R&B, Soul, Pop, Disco and Gospel music genres.
Ray Charles number one U.S. R&B hit in 1966, “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, was penned by the duo. They were also the creators of a number of hit songs that defined the Motown Sound. As performers, Ashford and Simpson’s best known song is “Solid” (1984).
They wrote and /or produced all but one of the late-1960s singles for the vocal duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, 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”. Ashford produced the smash hit “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”, recorded by Diana Ross & The Supremes in collaboration with the Temptations.
Ashford and Simpson were also the writers and producers of a number of hit songs for Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Gladys Knight and The Pips, and The Supremes, among several others. Their contributions have also manifested themselves in the Neo Soul genre, as evidenced by the Amy Winehouse Single “Tears Dry On Their Own” from her 2007 Back to Black album. Her song traces its origin to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s 1967 Motown classic hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
It goes without saying that the contributions of Ashford and Simpson were a driving force behind the Soul sounds of the 1960s and 70s, and have been immensely influential over contemporary R&B and Soul.