Introduction to Ashford and Simpson
Ashford & Simpson are a husband, Nickolas “Nick” Ashford (5/4/1942 – 8/22/2011) & wife, Valerie Simpson (born 8/26/1946) R&B recording & songwriting duo. In the mid 1960’s after having little success as the vocal duo “Valerie & Nick” they joined former Ikette member Josie Jo Armstead to write songs for the Scepter/Wand label including Ray Charles #1 R&B hit “Let’s Go Get Stoned.” They next joined Motown where they wrote many hit songs including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for The Supremes & Temptations collaboration single. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. In 1974 the duo married & this time began a successful vocal career. They released 14 albums between 1973 -1986 (including 4 Gold Records) & had 2 Top 40 hits (“Found a Cure” #36 & “Solid” #12) & 9 R&B Top 10 songs: “Don’t Cost You Nothing”, “It Seems to Hang On,” “Love Don’t Make It Right,” “Street Corner,” “Outta the World,” “Count Your Blessing” & “I’ll Be There for You.” Other songs: “Send It,” “Is It Still Good to Ya,” “Nobody Knows,” “Love It Away,” “High-Rise,” “So, So Satisfied,” “Babies,” “(I’d Know You) Anywhere,” “Main Line,” “Over and Over,” “By Way of Love’s Express,” “Happy Endings,” “It Shows In the Eyes,” “Hungry For Me Again,” “It’s Much Deeper,” “Everybody’s Got to Give It Up,” “Somebody Told a Lie,” “Tried, Tested and Found True,” & “One More Try.”
Ashford and Simpson’s early years
True oldies music fans will probably know Ashford and Simpson, who were a songwriting-production team and recording artists who were also a husband and wife in real life. Nick Ashford (Nikolas Ashford, b. May 4, 1941, in Fairfield South Carolina – d. August 22, 2012) and Valerie Simpson (b. August 26, 1946, in Bronx New York) met at Harlem’s White Rock Baptist Church in 1964 and they soon became a singing duo. During that time, hits were hard to come by for the two so instead they focused on being a songwriting.
In 1966, along with the ex-Ikettes member Joshie Jo Armstead, Ashford and Simpson wrote a number of songs for Scepter/Wand imprint, including “Never Had It So Good” (performed by Ronnie Milsap), “One Step at a Time” (performed by Maxine Brown) and “Let’s Go Get Stoned” which became a #1 US R&B hit for Ray Charles in 1966. After their time with Scepter/Wand, they moved to Motown where they wrote big hits like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell) and “You’re All I Need to Get By” (performed by Diana Ross).
Ashford and Simpson’s comeback as recording artists
In the early 70s music era, Ashford and Simpson returned to the recording studio and released the singles “Keep It Comin'” (Motown Records, 1973) and “Gimme Something Real (Warner Bros, 1974). They got married in 1974 and three years later issued two albums called So So Satisfied and Send It. On the latter, they finally had their first hit with “Don’t Cost You Nothing,” charting at #10 on the R&B chart in 1978 while the album Send It sold over 500,000 copies which later earned the duo a gold disc. In 1978, Is it Good To Ya was released and became a gold-selling album as well, containing another R&B hit “It Seems to Hang On” which peaked at #2.
A bigger hit came in with “Found a Cure” in 1979. Included on their third gold album Stay Free, it crossed over to pop and R&B charts at #36 and #1 respectively. They visited the pop chart once again in 1982 with their single from the album Street Opera, “Street Corner.” on #56 while it was #11 on the R&B chart. In 1984, the duo had their biggest hit with the song “Solid (as a Rock).” Featured on the album with the same title, “Solid” registered at #12 on the national chart. It was a bigger hit in the UK, peaking at #3 there. In 2009, the song was again recorded and remade by the couple for President Barack Obama’s inauguration, changing the title to “Solid (As Barack).”
The duo’s later years
During the 1990’s, Ashford and Simpson were still recording and touring but not as active as they were before. In 1996, they launched Sugar Bar, a restaurant and entertainment venue which was located in New York City.
Four days before Simpson’s 65th birthday, Ashford was claimed by complications of throat cancer on August 22, 2011.