NEW YORK, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Nick Ashford, who wrote some of the grittiest hits of Motown's golden era with his songwriting partner and wife, died in New York City, a longtime friend said.
Liz Rosenberg said Ashford, 70, died Monday in a hospital.
He suffered from throat cancer but the cause of death was not immediately determined, The New York Times reported.
Ashford, with Valerie Simpson, whom he met in a New York church in 1964, wrote songs later used to define "soul music." Their 1967 hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
Other hits included Gaye and Terrell's "You're All I need To Get By," Chaka Khan's (later Whitney Houston's) "I'm Every Woman" and their own chart hit, "Solid As A Rock."
"They had magic, and that's what creates those wonderful hits, that magic," Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire said after learning of his friend's death.
Ashford was born in Fairfield, S.C., in 1941.
He went to New York to pursue a dance career, but after meeting Simpson, who was studying music, they began writing songs and found success with the Ray Charles hit "Let's Go Get Stoned."
Ashford and Simpson attracted the attention of Berry Gordy's Motown Records, where their hits helped sell millions of records.
They left the label in 1973, a year after Motown Records moved from Detroit to Los Angeles.
No information was available on funeral arrangements.