Solid as a rock

Coming to terms with one’s own mortality is usually a painful journey. Once you reach a certain age you can’t hide from it, there are reminders around every corner.

It was announced yesterday morning that Nickolas Ashford had passed away from throat cancer.

Nickolas Ashford and his wife Valerie Simpson were creative geniuses – they wrote some of the best known hits of the 60s and 70s – amongst them, Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Diana Ross's signature song, Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand. Chaka Khan’s I'm Every Woman was another of theirs. In the 1980s they had chart toppers in their own right, most memorably Solid As A Rock – and that’s when I discovered them – or rather when I was shown them.

Back in the 80s my then boyfriend was a Music Fan – with capital letters. Some of the music he introduced me to then is still music I choose to listen to today. It’s not for nostalgia, but because it’s good music.

We saw Ashford and Simpson at the Dominion Theatre in Tottenham Court Road. The show was late starting, there was much stomping of feet as the audience grew impatient. But when the duo took to the stage, all was forgiven.

I have good memories of that theatre. We also saw Elkie Brooks – she’s still filling theatres today and I was lucky enough to see her again last year.

Nickolas Ashford was a sensuous and passionate performer. He was the lyricist and his words were seductive.

Cancer, that bastard disease, has claimed another victim. That we have Nickolas’s songs is small comfort, but it is some.