Nickolas Ashford, of the singing/songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson, was born on May 4, 1941, in Fairfield, South Carolina.
Raised in Willow Run, Michigan, Ashford's career in music began at the Willow Run Baptist Church where he sang and wrote songs for the choir. Ashford moved to New York City and after an unsuccessful attempt at making his mark as a dancer, he met 17-year-old Valerie Simpson at the White Rock Baptist Church in Harlem. The two began writing and selling songs together before they landed jobs as writers and producers with Motown in 1966.
The duo is best-known for writing hits for other performers like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "I'm Every Woman" and "Is It Still Good to You?" Hits performed by the couple include, "You're All I Need to Get By," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "Solid (As a Rock)."
In 2002, the duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Ashford died on Aug. 22, 2011, from throat cancer.
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(Photo: Gilles Petard/Redferns)