The acclaimed songwriter, who teamed with wife Valerie Simpson to pen hits like Chaka Khan's 'I'm Every Woman' and 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' -- a song made famous by soulful powerhouses Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell and Diana Ross -- was suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment, according to longtime friend and former publicist Liz Rosenberg, who revealed the news to the Associated Press.
He is survived by his wife, Valerie and two daughters.
A South Carolina native born on May 4, 1942, Ashford, along with Simpson, were recognized for their songwriting talents and joined Motown in 1966, pairing with the likes of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The duo wrote and produced tracks like 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing,' 'You're All I Need to Get By' and 'Your Precious Love' for the singers. Ashford produced, along with Frank Wilson, the famed song 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me,' which was recorded by Diana Ross & the Supremes in 1968.
Their relationship spanned for more more than four decades, since first meeting in 1964 at a New York City church. The pair were married for 38 years, and besides writing tracks for other artists, joined forces as a singing entity as well when their hit, 'Solid,' hit the airwaves in 1984. As a result of their skill crafting emotionally poignant lyrics, the duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
Their influence even spread to the rap world when Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man and Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige collaborated on their 1995 smash hit, 'I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By,' which used an interpolation of the latter track, written by Ashford & Simpson.
Besides singers and songwriters, Ashford & Simpson were also the owners of New York City restaurant Sugar Bar, a venue where established and burgeoning talent would perform.