Nickolas Nick Ashford (4 May 1942, Fairfield, South Carolina, USA) and Valerie Simpson (b. 26 August 1946, the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA). This performing and songwriting team met in the choir of Harlems White Rock Baptist Church. Having recorded, unsuccessfully, as a duo, they joined another aspirant, Jo Joshie Armstead, at the Scepter Records / Wand Records label where their compositions were recorded by Ronnie Milsap (Never Had It So Good), Maxine Brown (One Step At A Time), the Shirelles and Chuck Jackson. Another of the trios songs, Lets Go Get Stoned, gave Ray Charles a number 1 US R&B hit in 1966. Ashford and Simpson then joined Holland/Dozier/Holland at Motown Records where their best-known songs included Aint No Mountain High Enough, Youre All I Need To Get By, Reach Out And Touch Somebodys Hand and Remember Me. Simpson also began ghosting for Tammi Terrell when the latter became too ill to continue her partnership with Marvin Gaye, and she sang on part of the duos Easy album.
In 1971 Simpson embarked on a solo career, but two years later she and Ashford were recording together for Warner Brothers Records. A series of critically welcomed, if sentimental, releases followed, but despite appearing on the soul chart, few crossed over into pop. However, by the end of the decade, the couple achieved their commercial reward with the success of It Seems To Hang On (1978) and Found A Cure (1979). At the same time their production work for Diana Ross (The Boss) and Gladys Knight (The Touch) enhanced their reputation. Their status as imaginative performers and songwriters was further assured in 1984 when Solid became an international hit single.
Although their commercial success had dried up by the end of the 80s, Ashford and Simpson, who were married in 1974, remain one of souls quintessential partnerships. In 1996 they collaborated with poet Maya Angelou on Been Found, and received The Founders Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.