Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: RIP Nick Ashford

I'm sure you've all heard the news by now, and if you haven't you must be living under a rock or just reading the wrong stuff. Good thing you're reading our blog, ne?

Nick Ashford, one half of the amazing married songwriting duo of Ashford & Simpson, has passed away at the age of 70 due to complications with throat cancer. He leaves behind his wife Valerie Simpson and two children, not to mention a bevy of hits that have shaped the way many of us have grown up.
Nick Ashford had arrived in New York in the early 1960s, homeless, sleeping on a park bench, but determined to make it in the entertainment industry. He met Valerie Simpson in the choir at White Rock Baptist Church in Harlem [1]. The couple would go on to marry, but before then a songwriting partnership flourished, the pair penning hits such as Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, I'm Every Woman for Chaka Khan, and their own 1984 hit Solid (As a Rock). "They had magic," said Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire, "and that's what creates those wonderful hits, that magic."
I can still recall the times my father would blast Ain't No Mountain High Enough and remind me that there is nothing that would stop him from coming to help me wherever I am and whenever I need him. (Love you Daddy.)

Ashford & Simpson's songs and Motown hits have definitely helped shaped my love for soul and old school classics. My Temptations and Jackson 5 Pandora stations are definitely key and whenever Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell come on these stations I am belting out the lyrics right with them. It still breaks my heart thinking about how Marvin went downhill (in some aspects, while creating some awesome songs in) after her death.

But there was definitely magic between the two of them. Magic that created a union of music and love that would last for years. And even their own music was solid (pun intended).

Their music showcased their feelings for each other and really embodied soul. If I can find that joy with my husband I think I could be happy together forever, real talk.

I can only add to the RIPs that have been sent out to such a music pioneer. We have all been touched by his music if we have ever listened to Biggie, Beanie Sigel, Rob Base, or even Jessica Simpson. As that generation continues to get older, it saddens me to think of all the talent that will be lost. But I am grateful that their music legacy survives and continues on well after them.

Rest in Peace Nick Ashford and thank you for blessing us with such music gems.

[1] Big up to all the Baptists out there. 

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