Ashford & Simpson’s legend still growing

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 19:04
Posted in category Past Shows

Fabled husband/wife singer-songwriter team set for rare San Diego performances Saturday and Sunday at Anthology

By George Varga |

Ashford & Simpson’s 2002 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York inspired an immediate response: What took so long?

After all, the husband-and-wife musical team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson co-wrote their first hit for another artist 45 years ago. Many of the songs they crafted together became classics for the artists who recorded them, beginning in 1966 with Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned” and “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”

Other artists Ashford & Simpson wrote songs for in that era include Aretha Franklin (“Cry Like A Baby”), Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” ?“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,”) the Fifth Dimension (“California Soul”) and Diana Ross ?(“Reach Out And Touch Somebody’s Hand”).

As staff songwriters at Motown Records, Ashford & Simpson also wrote memorably for The Mavelettes, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Temptations, ?Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and the Four Tops. Beyond Motown, they lent their golden touch to Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, The Brothers Johnson, Angela Bofill, Teddy Pendergrass (with whom the couple appeared at the 1985 Live Aid concert in Philadelphia) and Chaka Khan (1978’s “I’m Every Woman,” which in 1993 also became a smash for Whitney Houston).

But that’s only half the story for Ashford & Simpson, who make a rare San Diego concert appearance Saturday and Sunday at downtown’s all-ages Anthology.

As a performing duo, they released their debut album, “Keep It Comin’,” ?in 1973 (a year before they married). They went on to write and record such R&B gems as “So, So Satisfied,” “Send It,” “Love Don’t Make It Right,” “Solid” and “Is It Still Good To Ya?”

The above songs are just a few examples why almost any Anthology audience member who hasn’t spent the past 50 years in a cave should recognize nearly every song these two Hall of Famers perform here. Expect an evening of sleek soulful music by a couple whose magical musical touch has long been a matter of record — and records.