Nickolas Ashford (b. Nickolas Ashford, 4th May 1941, Fairfield, South Carolina, U.S.A., d. 22nd August 2011, New York, New York State, U.S.A.)
Valerie Simpson (b. 26th August 1946, The Bronx, New York, U.S.A.)
Ashford and Simpson are amongst some of the finest songwriters in Soul Music, spanning the past few decades.
Their material can be found on many a recording by some of the genre's major artists.
Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson met in the choir of Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church.
i'll find you / it ain't like that - both 1964
In 1964, when they recorded the singles 'I'll Find You' b/w 'Lonely Town' and 'It Ain't Like That' b/w 'You Don't Owe Me a Thing' under the name of Valerie & Nick for, the Henry Glover owned, Glover imprint.
Further solo Nick Ashford singles followed for the Glover, Verve and ABC imprints.
Initially, the pair recorded as a duo, but found more immediate success as part of a team incorporating, former member of the Ikettes, Jo 'Joshie' Armstead, at the Scepter / Wand imprint.
One of the Ashford/Simpson/Armstead compositions, 'Let's Go Get Stoned', gave Ray Charles a number 1 U.S. R & B hit in 1966.
Relocating to the Motown label, Ashford and Simpson joined the Holland / Dozier / Holland team , where they wrote the songs, 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough', 'You're All I Need To Get By', 'Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand' and 'Remember Me', amongst others.
They also penned the the Fifth Dimension song, 'California Soul'.
In 1971, Valerie embarked on a solo career, released a couple of Motown albums (one of which contained her minor hit 'Silly Wasn't I?'), however, two years later she and Nick Ashford were recording together for Warner Brothers Records.
the warner years
At Warners they released a series of well received albums including 'Gimme Something Real' (in 1973), 'I Wanna Be Selfish' (in 1974), 'Come As You Are' (in 1976), 'So, So Satisfied' (featuring 'Destiny' in 1977), 'Send It' (featuring 'Top Of The Stairs' in 1977), 'Is It Still Good To Ya?' (featuring 'It Seems To Hang On' in 1978), 'Stay Free' (including 'Found A Cure', in 1979) and 'A Musical Affair '(featuring 'Love Don't Always Make It Right' and 'You Never Left Me Alone' in 1980).
The duo also contributed to the group Ace Spectrum's first album offering, entitled 'Inner Spectrum', which featured their song 'Don't Send Nobody Else'.
The duo also wrote for the likes of Teddy Pendergrass ('Is It Still Good To You'), The Brothers Johnson ('Ride-O-Rocket'), Sylvester ('Over and Over'), Phyllis Hyman ('I Ain't Askin'), Stephanie Mills ('Keep Away Girls'), Jennifer Holliday, Philip Michael Thomas, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan ('I'm Every Woman' and 'Clouds') and Rufus ('Keep It Comin' and 'Ain't Nothin' But a Maybe').
By the end of the Seventies, the couple had a huge club hit with the song 'It Seems To Hang On' in 1978, which was quickly followed up by 'Found A Cure' in 1979.
The duo continued production chores for the likes of Diana Ross (on her album 'The Boss', featuring the title track and 'It's My House') and Gladys Knight (on her set 'The Touch' and 'All About Love' in 1980).
The Glady's Knight 'All About Love' album featured the hits 'Landlord', 'Bourgie Bourgie' and 'Taste Of Bitter Love'.
Ashford and Simpson then hit the charts in 1984 with their own song 'Solid', which became an international hit single.
Nick Ashford appeared in the movie 'New Jack City' (1991), as Reverend Oates, an ordained minister.
Valerie Simpson's brother, Raymond, was a Warners recording artist in his own right, later becoming part of the group the Village People.
Nickolas Ashford, sadly, passed away on the 22nd of August 2011 from throat cancer.
as Valerie Simpson
Exposed (Motown 1971)
Valerie Simpson (Motown 1972)
as Ashford and Simpson
Gimme Something Real (Warners 1973)
I Wanna Be Selfish (Warners 1974)
Come As You Are (Warners 1976)
as Valerie Simpson
Keep It Comin' (Motown 1977)
as Ashford and Simpson
So, So Satisfied (Warners 1977)
Send It (Warners 1977)
Is It Still Good To Ya? (Warners 1978)
Stay Free (Warners 1979)
A Musical Affair (Warners 1980)
Performance (Warners 1981)
Street Opera (Capitol 1982)
High-Rise (Capitol 1983)
Solid (Capitol 1984)
Real Love (Capitol 1986)
Love Or Physical (Capitol 1989)
Been Found (Hopsack & Silk 1996)