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Legendary Nick Ashford passes at 70

Nick Ashford, one half of the legendary Motown duo Ashford and Simpson, has passed at 70 years old from complications of throat cancer. Liz Rosenberg, friend and former publicist, told The Associated Press that Ashford died Monday in a New York City hospital. He had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment.

Ashford and Simpson, who joined Motown in 1966, were successful songwriters and producers responsible for writing hits for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell including "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". Other artists that Ashford & Simpson worked with included Gladys Knight & The Pips, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Marvelettes, The Supremes, Teddy Pendergrass, The Brothers Johnson, Chaka Khan and Rufus, Quincy Jones and many, many others. Ashford, with Frank Wilson, produced the hit "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," recorded by Diana Ross & the Supremes in collaboration with the Temptations in 1968. The duo rewrote a version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" for Diana Ross which became a number one record and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

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)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), Surrender ("Remember Me"), and The Boss. In 1974, Ashford & Simpson were married and came out with the Warner Bros. album, Gimme Something Real, followed by the hit singles, "Don't Cost You Nothin'" (1977), "It Seems To Hang On" (1978), "Is It Still Good to Ya" (1978).

As performers in the 80's, Ashford & Simpson signed with Capitol Records and had a huge hit with "Solid as a Rock." They were also given writing credit on Amy Winehouse's Back to Black for the single "Tears Dry On Their Own," based on a sample of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Ashford is survived by his wife and two daughters, Nicole and Asia. Ashford and Simpson were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.