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Robert Fontenot

Rock songwriting legends Lieber and Ashford pass away on same day

By August 23, 2011

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Two halves of two famous rock songwriting teams -- Lieber & Stoller and Ashford & Simpson -- passed away late Monday. Jerry Lieber (top), who along with partner Mike Stoller defined rock songwriting in the 50s and 60s, died of natural causes at the age of 78 at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The Lieber/Stoller team brought the Coasters into pop with "Yakety Yak" and "Charlie Brown," penned many of Elvis' biggest hits, such as "Hound Dog" and "'Jailhouse Rock," and helped develop "Uptown Soul" by writing and producing the Drifters' "There Goes My Baby" and "Save the Last Dance for Me" (as well as former lead Drifter Ben E. King's "Stand By Me"). Their last hit was 1969's Peggy Lee standard "Is That All There Is?"

Nick Ashford, who pioneered pop-soul songwriting with wife Valerie Simpson, has lost his battle with throat cancer at age 70 in New York. The Ashford and Simpson team penned several Motown classics such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand," and "You're All I Need to Get By," as well as Ray Charles' "Let's Go Get Stoned" and Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman." As performers, the duo scored several hits, most notably 1984's "Solid" ("...as a rock").

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