Nickolas Ashford (b. May 4, 1943, Fairfax, South Carolina - d. August 22, 2011, New York, New York) and Valerie Simpson (b. August 26, 1948, The Bronx, New York) started writing and recording together in 1964, and two years later wrote their first hit song - "Let's Go Get Stoned", recorded by Ray Charles. They then took up staff positions at Motown, where they wrote and produced hits for Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. During their stay at Motown, Valerie released a couple of solo albums which flopped, prompting her and Ashford to leave in 1973. From then on, the duo concentrated on making their own records, though they also penned Chaka Khan's hit "I'm Every Woman" before finally achieving recognition as artists in their own right.
Both were inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.