Nick Ashford, Motown songwriter extraordinaire and former Willow Run resident, has died

Nick Ashford, who with his wife, Valerie Simpson, wrote mega-Motown hit after mega-Motown hit, died yesterday in Manhattan.

Ashford grew up in Willow Run, where he performed at the Willow Run Baptist Church. In 1996-1997, the Willow Run Community Schools included him in their first group of inductees into The Willow Run Hall of Fame.

Ashford attended Eastern Michigan University for awhile before moving to New York, where he fell on hard times. At 22, he met 17-year-old music student, Valerie Simpson, at the White Rock Baptist Church in Harlem, and thus music magic was ignited. The couple married in 1974.

Among their now-golden oldies hits are Ain't No Mountain High Enough, You're All I Need to Get By, Let's Get Stoned, and Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing,. Included in the star-studded roster of voices who performed their music are: Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Chaka Khan, and Whitney Houston. More recently, Ashford and Simpson were given credit on the late Amy Winehouse's Back to Black (2006) album for her Tears Dry on Their Own cut.

Ashford, who suffered from throat cancer, was 69.


I didn't realize Ashford was a local guy. What a great career. I love that he and his wife were a song-writing team.

Solid will be in my head all day as a tribute.

Very sad...

Heard about this on NPR - they mentioned Motown, but not Willow Run! (or if they did, I didn't hear it)

What a sad day

Let his soul rest in peace. R.I.P

I remember the duo; Ashford and Simpson. The music "solid as a rock."

So sad - sending peaceful wishes to the family.

So sad.

I had no idea how many songs of his that I already knew! Ain't No Mountain High Enough, It Takes Two, Solid as a Rock.