I always liked the music of Ashford and Simpson. They were a husband and wife team that seemed inseparable in their love for each other and their music. When I first started out playing, never did I dream that I would one day get the opportunity to work with them. During one summer I was performing with Teddy Pendergrass at an out door event in Westbury, New York. With Teddy I had my own microphone and on occasion would sing backup vocals while playing. Well, this one evening I was onstage doing my thing for Teddy when I got a small “tap” on my shoulder. My first inclination was “how in the world could anyone else even get onstage to tap me on my shoulder while performing? The tap came from Nicolas Ashford, who wanted to use my microphone to sing the background parts to Teddy’s song. There was NO way I was going to tell them “no” so I just stepped back and let them have it. Teddy was in a wheelchair, so he could not turn around at first to see that they were there. After he finished the song, we alerted him to his newly found background singers and he smiled and gladly welcomed them. On another occasion I have to play for some kind of awards show (I can’t remember the name of it right now) but I knew that Ashford and Simpson were one of the artists listed on the bill. For those of you who don’t know, the song “Ain’t no mountain high enough” was originally performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, but the song was actually “written” by Ashford and Simpson. It was my pleasure to actually “perform” this song with them. Valerie Simpson played the piano and they both sang. It was so much fun. For those of you who have never seen them, at first glance they don’t appear as though they are the perfect couple “at all.” He was “way more glitzier” than she was. He was also very tall, while she was “quite short.” They were inseparable, though, and VERY friendly. We all had dinner together and the show came off “great.” I was saddened to hear that he died, and I have not heard much about Valerie Simpson since his death. I just know that this great songwriting duo left us a lot of great music for history. If you get the chance, I hope you can Google their music. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my experience with you today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Ashford and Simpson and Brett Jolly in concert