Music industry has just lost two of its legendary songwriters in the same week. Nickolas Ashford, the one-half of successful Motown songwriter duo Ashford & Simpson, died on Monday afternoon, August 22, while "Hound Dog" co-writer Jerry Leiber passed away on Tuesday, August 23.
Confirming Nickolas' passing was his longtime friend and former publicist Liz Rosenberg. The 69-year-old had been battling throat cancer with radiation treatment, and Liz said his death "was quite sudden." The publicist added that Nick's wife Valerie Simpson and children were at his bedside when he died.
Together with wife Valerie, Nick wrote a number of popular songs, such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand", for the likes of Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
Jerry, in the meantime, died unexpectedly at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. His longtime publicist, Bobbi Marcus, said that the 78-year-old, who produced such songs as "Stand by Me" and "Jailhouse Rock", was surrounded by family when he succumbed to cardio pulmonary failure.
Reacting to news of Jerry's passing, Mike Stoller remembered his songwriting partner for more than 60 years in a statement that read, "He was my friend, my buddy, my writing partner for 61 years. We met when we were 17 years old. He had a way with words. There was nobody better." He added, "I am going to miss him."
Along with Mike, Jerry wrote hits for Elvis Presley as well as a number of R&B stars, like The Coasters and Ben E. King. He has been inducted to both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.