Hundreds Attend Funeral for Legendary Motown Songwriter Nick Ashford

By Jeff Mays on August 30, 2011 11:07am 

Nick Asford and Valerie Simpson formed the great Motown songwriting duo. Ashford died of throat cancer on Mon., Aug. 22, 2011.
Nick Asford and Valerie Simpson formed the great Motown songwriting duo. Ashford died of throat cancer on Mon., Aug. 22, 2011.
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HARLEM — Hundreds of people came to the Abyssinian Baptist Church Monday night to bid farewell to Motown composer and R&B singer Nick Ashford.

Ashford, 69, died last Monday after battling throat cancer. The legendary musician first gained fame as a composer for Motown with his longtime wife, Valerie Simpson.

The duo composed breakthrough hits for the likes of Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell, including "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." They also wrote hits for Ray Charles, Diana Ross, and even penned the Chaka Khan classic "I'm Every Woman."

The pair, known as Ashford & Simpson, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.

"His spirit will always be with me and all my friends. His contribution to the music industry and everything about him will always fly high in my spirits," one fan gathered outside the memorial told NY1.

Married since 1974, Ashford & Simpson also had a successful recording career tht included four gold albums. They own Sugar Bar on West 72nd Street, where they were known to occasionally perform.

Ashford, who was born in North Carolina and raised in Michigan, originally aspired to be a dancer. He met his wife at Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church.

Monday's funeral service was originally scheduled for Saturday but had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Irene.

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