Nick Ashford (Getty Images / WireImage / Ron Galella, Ltd.)
Nick Ashford was one-half of the unstoppable musical duo Ashford & Simpson, the talented writers behind hits "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "I'm Every Woman" among others. Ashford met his songwriting partner, Valerie Simpson, at a Harlem church in 1964, and the two were soon recording together. Not long after, the pair married. They would continue to write and perform together until Ashford's death in 2011. In addition, Ashford appeared as Reverend Oates in the landmark film New Jack City. We remember Ashford's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2012: Jeffrey Stone, U.S. actor who was the model for Prince Charming for the Disney movie Cinderella and appeared in the television shows Surfside 6 and The Outer Limits, dies at 85.
2011: Jerry Leiber, U.S. songwriter who partnered with composer Mike Stoller to form the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo that wrote such songs as "Hound Dog," "Stand by Me" and "Love Potion No. 9," dies at 78.
With Leiber as lyricist and Stoller as composer, the team channeled their blues and jazz backgrounds into pop songs performed by such artists as Elvis Presley, Dion and the Belmonts, the Coasters, the Drifters and Ben E. King in a way that would help create a joyous new musical style, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. From their breakout hit, blues great Big Mama Thornton’s 1953 rendition of “Hound Dog,” until their songwriting took a more serious turn in 1969 with Peggy Lee’s recording of “Is That All There Is?” the pair remained one of the most successful teams in pop music history. Read more
2011: Nick Ashford, U.S. singer-songwriter who partnered with his wife, Valerie Simpson, to form the rhythm and blues duo Ashford & Simpson, who had a hit song with "Solid," and wrote hit songs for other artists, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" that Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell recorded, dies at 70.
Perhaps owing to their real-life love, their talent was at its height when they wrote romantic duets, like Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing." Most of their greatest compositions weren't breakup songs filled with desperate longing or spurned anger. The titles alone tell you about the true love Ashford & Simpson's songs celebrated. Read more
2009: Elmer Kelton, U.S. author considered one of the greatest Western writers of all time, whose book The Good Old Boys was adapted for a TV movie starring Tommy Lee Jones, dies of multiple causes at 83.
Kelton wrote 62 fiction and nonfiction books. The Good Old Boys was made into a 1995 TV movie starring Jones for the TNT cable network. Kelton also was known for The Man Who Rode Midnight and The Time It Never Rained, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. The Western Writers of America voted Kelton "Best Western Author of All Time" and gave him its Spur Award seven times. Four of his books won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Read more
2006: Bruce Gary, U.S. drummer with the group the Knack who later became a studio drummer, working with such artists as George Harrison and Stephen Stills, dies at 55.
2004: Al Dvorin, U.S. bandleader and talent agent who organized Elvis Presley's concerts from 1955 until his death in 1977, dies in an auto accident at 81.
2004: Daniel Petrie, Canadian movie director whose films included A Raisin in the Sun and Cocoon: The Return, dies of cancer at 83.
1991: Colleen Dewhurst, Canadian-born U.S. actress known for her theater work who also appeared in movies and television shows, including playing Annie Hall's mother in the Woody Allen movie Annie Hall and a recurring role as Murphy Brown's mother on the TV series Murphy Brown, dies at 67.
1989: Huey P. Newton, U.S. activist who was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, dies in a shooting at 47.
1979: James T. Farrell, U.S. author most well-known for the Studs Lonigan trilogy, dies of a heart attack at 75.
1977: Sebastian Cabot, English actor most well-known for playing Mr. French on the television series Family Affair, dies after having a stroke at 59.
1973: Louise Huff, U.S. film actress during the silent era whose credits include the movie Great Expectations, dies at 77.