Jerry Leiber and Nickolas Ashford: remember them this way

Two great American songwriters have died. Leave your tributes, and tell us which songs you'll remember them by ...

It's a sad day for anyone who loves classic pop and soul songwriting as two great practitioners of the art have died. Jerry Leiber, who passed away aged 78 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles of cardiopulmonary failure, made an indelible mark on pop with songs he created with his writing partner Mike Stoller in the late-50s and early-60s.

Nick Ashford, who died aged 70 in New York of throat cancer, wrote songs with his wife Valerie Simpson that similarly defined an era – the late-60s and early-70s. Here are some of their finest moments: please share your own below. Full obituaries will follow shortly.

Ben E King's mellifluous rendition of this Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song, coupled with Phil Spector's production, made an uncelebrated part of New York feel like the most elegant place on earth.

A Thomas Mann story called Disillusionment inspired Leiber and Stoller to write this, the ultimate "seize the day" song, definitively interpreted by Peggy Lee in 1969, though many others have also had a bash.

Leiber and Stoller joyously summed up the travails of the generation gap in 1958 with this concise description of how well nagging goes down with teenagers.

Perhaps owing to the fact they were married to each other, Ashford and Simpson were brilliant at writing songs that expressed sheer romantic devotion, and this – perfectly sung by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – is their best, just about edging out Ain't No Mountain High Enough.

Another soaring declaration of love, although sung from one ex-partner to another, this became an anthem for its singer, Diana Ross. Also includes the curious line: "Remember me as a big balloon."

Ashford & Simpson - Solid by trashfan

Solid is notable for the fact that Ashford and Simpson sing it. While it's perhaps not one of their best, it's the first song anyone brought up in the 80s thinks of when the songwriters' names are mentioned – it was a huge hit in 1984.

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jerry Leiber obituary

Ingenious writer of witty and irreverent lyrics set to music by Mike Stoller

Richard Williams

23, Aug, 2011 @5:58 PM

Article image
Songwriter Jerry Leiber dies aged 78
Along with writing partner Mike Stoller, lyricist was responsible for enduring hits including Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock and Stand By Me

Tim Jonze

23, Aug, 2011 @11:27 AM

Article image
Never mind the polls: the old albums we loved revisiting in 2015
From Simple Minds to Public Enemy, here are the albums our writers turned to when they’d had enough of new releases

Dave Simpson, Lanre Bakare, Laura Barton, Tshepo Mokoena, Tim Jonze, Kate Hutchinson , Paul MacInnes, Gwilym Mumford, Alexis Petridis and Michael Hann

24, Dec, 2015 @9:00 AM

Article image
Remember Donna Summer: listen now to five classic songs

I Feel Love has to feature on any playlist of Donna Summer's music, but here are also some more classics by which to remember her ...

Caroline Sullivan

17, May, 2012 @8:33 PM

Article image
Reginald D Hunter: ‘I know I’m gonna piss someone off this time’
The controversial American comic is embarking on a new UK tour. He’s less angry, he reckons, but is always going to say what he thinks

Paul Fleckney

30, Apr, 2015 @2:44 PM

Article image
Nick Ashford obituary
Singer and songwriter who had a string of hits with his wife, Valerie Simpson, during Motown's heyday

Dave Laing

23, Aug, 2011 @2:25 PM

This Day In Music - 24 August

24 August 1963 - Stevie Wonder became the first artist ever to score a US No.1 album and single in the same week. Wonder was at No.1 on the album chart with 'Little Stevie Wonder / The 12 Year Old Genius' and had the No.1 single 'Fingertips part 2'. The single, which featured Wonder on vocals, bongos and harmonica, and a young Marvin Gaye on drums, was recorded live at a Motor Town Revue performance, and was the first live recording to go to number one.

Luke Bainbridge

24, Aug, 2007 @12:01 AM

Article image
St Paul & the Broken Bones: Half the City review – solid Muscle Shoals revivalists
Steeped in the Muscle Shoals tradition, this Alabama six-piece are powered by a remarkable singer in the shape of Paul Janeway, writes Robin Denselow

Robin Denselow

08, May, 2014 @9:35 PM

Mavis Staples: One True Vine – review
Wilco's Jeff Tweedy helps out the gospel veteran again, with uplifting results, writes Hermione Hoby

Hermione Hoby

22, Jun, 2013 @11:05 PM

Article image
Why playlists are getting me through anxious times
New technologies are helping us reach out to one another in these troubled times. And what doesn’t make the list is just as important as what does

Caspar Llewellyn Smith

27, Mar, 2020 @2:30 PM