*Legendary R&B production team Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, and Motown founder Berry Gordy have released statements on the passing of Nick Ashford.
The songwriter, who along with wife, Valerie Simpson, wrote some of Motown’s biggest hits, died in a New York City hospital, said publicist Liz Rosenberg, who was Mr. Ashford’s longtime friend. He had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment, she told the Associated Press.
Gamble & Huff, whose song “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” was produced by Ashford for Motown, said the following:
Nick Ashford was truly one of our favorite songwriting colleagues and producers. He and Valerie Simpson had a major impact on Gamble & Huff’s songwriting career, as Nick was responsible for producing a song we wrote, ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,’ with Motown. Nick heard the song after we wrote it for Dee Dee Warwick and made it a major hit for Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations together. We also worked with Ashford & Simpson on ‘Is It Still Good to You,’ which they wrote for Teddy Pendergrass, and they did an excellent job. We’re longtime admirers of Ashford & Simpson as one of the greatest songwriting teams ever. Nick was a multi-talented artist, and he will be truly, truly missed by both of us.
Motown Records founder Berry Gordy released the following statement:
I am shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of Nickolas Ashford. He, together with his wife Valerie Simpson, wrote and produced some of the most unique and memorable songs in the Motown catalog for some of Motown’s biggest artists, such as Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need To Get By.” They were most responsible for the great hits of Diana Ross’s solo career, including one of my favorites, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which became Diana’s signature song.
But more importantly to me, Nick Ashford was an all-around beautiful human being. Nick will always be a great part of the Motown family and legacy. I send my love and deepest sympathies to Val and his children.
I will remember his warm smile, his great heart and the wonderful songs he left us with. Despite my personal sorrow, I know we will be celebrating his life forever.