Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, started their life and songwriting partnerships in the mid-1960s, writing for songs such as “California Soul for The 5th Dimension, “Cry Like A Baby” for Aretha Franklin and “Let’s Go Get Stoned” and “I Don’t Need No Doctor” for Ray Charles. Their work with Charles brought them to the attention of Motown chief Berry Gordy.
After joining Motown staff in 1966, Ashford & Simpson wrote all but one of the late-1960s Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell singles, including hits such as the original version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”, and “You’re All I Need to Get By”.
Ashford & Simpson wrote and produced almost all the songs on three critically acclaimed albums for Diana Ross, including Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Surrender, Remember Me and The Boss.
This astounding songwriting couple have also written hits Didn’t You Know You’d Have to Cry Sometime and Taste of Bitter Love for Gladys Knight & The Pips, Who’s Gonna Take the Blame for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel for You for Syreeta Wright, Destination: Anywhere for The Marvelettes, Tear It On Down for Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Shoe, Shoe Shine for The Dynamic Superiors, I Wouldn’t Change the Man He Is for Blinky Williams, Is It Still Good to You for Teddy Pendergrass, , and Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman, Clouds, keep it Comin and Ain’t Nothin’ But a Maybe. In 1994, Ashford & Simpson wrote and recorded the number 1 hit “Solid.” Their songs have and been recorded by artists such as Amy Winehouse, Method Man, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston and The Temptations.
We stand on our songs and we stand on the songs that we wrote for other people. That gives us a higher platform.
We call 'Ain't No Mountain' the golden egg that landed us at Motown.
There is a formula that allows you to write a decent song. But a song like 'You're All I Need to Get By,' it just writes itself.
The thing is they were married and working together, that was what was special about them. Everybody admired that.
Sometimes you want a Part Two in your life.
Motown was the mecca. It was every writer's dream to work there.
I needed real help in New York, and I had no friends. I looked up at those buildings, I couldn't see the sky or nothing, and I said, 'Well, there ain't no mountain high enough,' and I just started - the words just fell out of my mouth, really.