Two U.S. song writers, Leiber and Ashford, die

Jerry Leiber, 78, who along with his song writing partner Mike Stoller penned some of rock’s earliest hits, died Monday in Los Angeles following a heart ailment.

The duo’s most famous songs defined the early years of rock and included: “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Yakety Yak,” “Charlie Brown” and “Stand By Me”.

The iconic rock songs by Leiber and Stoller were performed by artists such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Rolling Stones, the Drifters and the Coasters.

In the 1990s, the songwriters’ tune “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” became the inspiration for a Broadway play. The show won a 1996 Grammy as the best musical show album.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing Chairman Martin Bandier called the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s 60 year partnership one of the greatest and most prolific song writing partnerships of all time.

Meanwhile, Nick Ashford, 70, half of the singing and song-writing duo Ashford and Simpson, died Monday from throat cancer. A former publicist says Ashford died in a New York hospital surrounded by his family.

Ashford and Simpson’s writing efforts yielded songs for many artists like Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan. The South Carolina native wrote and recorded with his wife, Valerie Simpson, at Motown Records. They penned such hits for the duet Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell as “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Diana Ross re-recorded “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and it became one of her signature songs.

Verdine White of the musical group Earth, Wind and Fire called Ashford’s songwriting “unmatched in terms of great songwriting”.

Ashford and Simpson were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.

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