Legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford died Monday, but they leave behind a huge legacy of rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues classics, not to mention countless numbers of devoted fans.
Nick Ashford, half of the prolific Motown husband and wife duo Ashford and Simpson who composed unforgettable hit classics for such artists as Diana Ross, Chaka Khan and Marvin Gaye, died of throat cancer in New York City. He was 70 years old.
He'd been undergoing treatment for the cancer, his former publicist Liz Rosenberg said. Ashford first met his wife of 38 years, Valerie Simpson, in New York City, where they began their prolific collaboration by writing hits for the legendary record label Motown Records. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
Jerry Leiber, the lyricist in the prolific songwriting duo of Leiber and Stroller, died of cardiopulmonary failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, at the age of 68.
With partner Mike Stoller, whom Leiber met as a teenager, Leiber wrote many of the iconic rock 'n' roll hits of the 1950s and '60s for such mega artists as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino and Aretha Franklin. The pair was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
In a tribute to the day the music died, here are the top 7 hits written by celebrated songwriters Nick Sanford and Jerry Leiber:
1. 'Hound Dog'
This hit, recorded by Elvis Presley in 1956, was Leiber and Stroller's first No. 1 hit, and cemented their place in rock 'n' roll history, according to Billboard.com. Leiber was surprised that the tune, as sung by "some white guy" (Elvis Presley), about a woman who kicked out her good-for-nothing man, had made the airwaves so quickly, according to the Los Angeles Times. The duo would go on to write many more hits for Presley, including "Love Me," "Jailhouse Rock" and "Fools Fall in Love."
2. 'Love Potion No. 9'
This song, originally recorded by the doo-wop group the Clovers, was released in 1959. According to Billboard.com, the tune climbed steadily up R&B charts and was considered one of the group's greatest hits (the Clovers broke up in 1961). The song was also included in the iconic coming of age movie "American Graffiti."
The Top 7 Ashford and Leiber Songs the World Loved
3. 'Yakety Yak'
Yakety Yak was a smash hit attributed to Leiber's lively banter with Stroller. The Los Angeles Times recounted the story of Stroller, who had been fooling around on the piano when Leiber shouted out at him to "Take out the papers and ... the trash!" What ensued was a smash hit about a youth who resented parental authority. The lyrics describe a handful of chores and the consequences of not doing them ("Take out the papers and the trash, Or you don't get no spending cash") with the mischievous refrain "Yakety yak, don't talk back." According to Billboard.com, the classic tune topped Billboard charts in June 1958.
4. 'This Magic Moment'
The Drifters -- one of America's most beloved doo-wop groups -- crooned this tune to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960, as chronicled on Billboard.com. A tune that ended the night for hundreds of proms that year, this hit goes down in history as one of Ashford and Simpson's greatest melodies.
5. 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough'
"Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough" -- this eternal hit, first sung in 1966 by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrelll, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. It became a hit again when Diana Ross put her own soulful spin on it in 1970, and has since been regarded as one of Motown's greatest classics of all time.
6. 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing'
A single released in 1968 by R &B duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, it is perhaps one of Ashford's most popular songs and launched Gaye's reputation as one of rhythm and blues' sexiest crooners.
7.' I'm Every Woman'
Chaka Khan made her mark on music history with this funky 1978 anthem. The hit, later covered by Whitney Houston, made it a chart-climber in the 1980s. It eventually reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, according to Billboard.com. With its soulful lyrics "I'm every woman, it's all in me, anything you want done, baby, I'll do it naturally," Ashford wrote a lasting classic that earned thousands of fans all over the world.