Motown songwriter Nick Ashford dies age 70

Nick Ashford, one half of the legendary Motown songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson that penned elegant, soulful classics funk hits for the likes of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Chaka Khan, has died at the age of 70, his former publicist said.

Liz Rosenberg, who also was Ashford's long-time friend, said Ashford - who along with wife Valerie Simpson wrote some of Motown's biggest hits - died in a New York City hospital yesterday.

He had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment.

Though they had some of their greatest success at Motown with classics like Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand by Ross and You're All I Need To Get By by Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Ashford & Simpson also created classics for others, like the anthem I'm Every Woman by Khan (and later remade by Whitney Houston).

They also had success writing for themselves: Perhaps the biggest known hit sung by them was the 1980s hit Solid As A Rock.

Ashford is survived by his wife and two daughters.