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Ashford & Simpson Biography

Home > Music > A > Ashford & Simpson > Biography

Birth Place: New York, NY, USA
Years Active: 1964 - present
Genres: R&B, Soul, Pop, Disco, Gospel

Nickolas Ashford was born on May 4, 1941 in Fairfield, South Carolina, and Valerie Simpson was born on August 26, 1946 in the Bronx, New York. Ashford and Simpson were a husband and wife singing duo that hit the height of their success in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The duo met at Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church in 1964 and connected over music, shortly thereafter they teamed up with former Ikettes, Joshie Jo Armstead and began to record together. The result was the singles: “Never Had It So Good,” “One Step At A Time” and “Let's Go Get Stoned.” The exposure from these recordings led Ashford & Simpson to an offer from Motown Records in 1966. The duo signed with the label and released some of their most well-known hit records here, including “Ain't No Mountain High Enough,” “You're All I Need To Get By,” “Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand).” The duo were an instant success with their international smash hit singles and became a household name as their fan base exploded over night. As such, the duo also became an in-demand writing team and wrote for other artists, such as Chaka Khan, penning the hit, “I'm Every Woman” (1978) and Teddy Pendergrass's “Is It Still Good to You?”

Ashford and Simpson stepped away from the music world to get married in 1974, returning with the album “Gimme Something Real” on Warner Bros. Records, which followed with the hits: “Don't Cost You Nothin'“ (1977), “It Seems to Hang On” (1978), “Is It Still Good to Ya” (1978), “Found a Cure” (1979), “Street Corner” (1982), and their biggest hit, “Solid (As a Rock)” in 1984. “Solid as Rock” dominated the Pop and R&B Charts in both the U.K. and the U.S from 1984 to 1985. As their singing success continued, their writing career also blossomed. Writing for artists, such as Aretha Franklin; Ray Charles; Diana Ross; Gladys Knight & The Pips; Smokey Robinson & The Miracles; The Supremes; The Brothers Johnson; and with Rufus. The duo continued to release music throughout the 1980s and 1990s, perform live, and write music for other artists. 1996 saw the duo open the live entertainment venue, 'The Sugar Bar' in New York City, which has housed performers such as Queen Latifah and Felicia Collins. That same year saw the duo released the album “Been Found,” a collaboration with the with poet Maya Angelou in 1996.

2006 saw the duo writing the score for a musical based on E. Lynn Harris's novel Invisible Life. 2007 saw the duo, alongside Tina Turner, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Sidney Poitier, Spike Lee, and Chris Rock accompanied Oprah Winfrey when she opened her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. The duo also worked with the famed singer Amy Winehouse's on her 2007 album, “Back to Black” for the single “Tears Dry On Their Own.” The duo continued to make appearances at small venues until Ashford died in New York City on August 22, 2011, after an on-going battle with throat cancer. Simpson released a new solo album in 2012, “Dinosaurs Are Coming Back Again,” which features the last recorded performance of Nina Simone, a duet with Roberta Flack and an instrumental version of “Ain't No Mountain High Enough.”