Two giants of pop-music songwriting, Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford, died on Monday (Aug. 22).
Leiber, 78, died in Los Angeles of cardio-pulmonary failure. Ashford, who was 70, died in New York after suffering from throat cancer.
With partner Mike Stoller, Leiber wrote dozens of early rock ‘n’ roll hits for artists including the Drifters, the Coasters and Elvis Presley, who had No. 1 singles with several of their songs, including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog” and “Don’t.”
Some of the duo’s other classics include “Kansas City,” “Yakety Yak,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “I’m a Woman,” “Stand by Me” (which they wrote with singer Ben E. King), “On Broadway” and “Charlie Brown.” They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Ashford and Valerie Simpson began as a songwriting team for Motown Records and wrote or produced some of the label’s all-time great songs, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “You’re All I Need to Get By” for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. They also wrote “I’m Every Woman” for Chaka Khan.
Ashford & Simpson married in 1974 and later released several records as performers. Their biggest hit was “Solid” in 1985.
A sampling of both men’s work is below. First is Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock,” followed by “On Broadway” (which Leiber and Stoller co-wrote with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) by the Drifters. Then it’s Gaye and Terrell singing “You’re All I Need to Get By” and Ashford & Simpson doing “Solid.”