Valerie Simpson: A Tribute to Nick Ashford
R&B / Soul
Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson had two careers, as songwriters and as performers. The two met in 1964 and scored their first songwriting hit in 1966 with Ray Charles’ recording of their “Let’s Go Get Stoned.” After a period at Scepter Records, they moved to Motown, where they wrote hits for the duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”, “You’re All I Need to Get By”). When Diana Ross left the Supremes for a solo career, Ashford & Simpson wrote “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” for her.
Their own performing career was launched in 1973 with “Keep It Comin’” on Motown and “Gimme Something Real” on Warner Bros. Their first success came in 1977 with the gold-selling “Send It”, which contained the Top Ten R&B hit “Don’t Cost You Nothing.”
“Is It Still Good to Ya”, a second gold album, contained the number two R&B hit “It Seems to Hang On” in 1978. “Stay Free”, their third straight gold album, contained “Found a Cure,” another R&B smash that also made the Top 40 on the pop chart. A Musical Affair, in 1980, featured the hit “Love Don’t Make It Right,” but was not as successful as previous efforts. Their most successful pop hit as performers is their mid-80s hits, “Solid,” which hit No. 12.
Other songs they had a hand in include “I’m Every Woman,” a hit for Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston. During the late ’80s and two following decades, Ashford & Simpson continued to tour and record sporadically.
In 1996, they opened the restaurant and live entertainment venue Sugar Bar in New York City, which had an open mic on Thursday nights where performers have included Queen Latifah and Felicia Collins. 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 classic hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.
In August of 2011, Nick Ashford passed away at the age of 70 due to throat cancer. Since his passing, Valerie Simpson has been performing tributes to her late husband on her own.