Nick Ashford, who with his wife, Valerie Simpson, made up the legendary Motown songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson, responsible for timeless, soulful classics for the likes of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and many others, died yesterday at the age of 69.
According to a family friend, publicist Liz Rosenberg, Ashford passed away in a New York City hospital. Rosenberg told The Associated Press that he had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment.
A South Carolina native, Ashford moved to New York City to pursue a dancing career. It was in Manhattan that he met Valerie Simpson, who later became his wife. The two started out writing music for Scepter Records. Their big breakthrough happened in 1966 when Ray Charles scored a hit with their song Let's Go Get Stoned.
In recent years, the pair continued to perform. They also were owners of the New York City restaurant Sugar Bar, where many big names and emerging talents would put on showcases.