Profile: Nick Ashford, singer/songwriter

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The Independent Online

Who is this Motown legend?

Alongside his wife, Valerie Simpson, the duo Ashford and Simpson wrote some of the most timeless and best-selling Motown songs in history. The classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", made famous by former Supremes starlet Diana Ross in 1970, and "I'm Every Woman", which was a 1978 Chaka Khan hit later covered by Whitney Houston, are some of their best-known hits. Sadly, Mr Ashford died on Monday at a hospital in New York City aged 69, bringing tributes from the likes of Earth, Wind and Fire and Alicia Keys.

Wow – combining marriage with a lifelong professional partnership.

Exactly. The couple were married for 37 years and had a career which spanned generations and helped several artists to sell millions of records. When Ashford first came to New York City in the early 1960s to pursue a career in dance, he was homeless. Simpson later inscribed a park bench with the words "Nick Ashford slept here".

But his legacy lives on?

With that many hits, how could it not? Most recently, the couple worked with Amy Winehouse on the hit "Tears Dry on Their Own", from her UK No 1 album, Back to Black. They also had singing success of their own with "Solid". But it's as composers that Ashford and his wife will be remembered – hits such as "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", both sung by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, will live on.

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