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Lest We Forget

Greene County Gold Remembers Those Who Have Gone On To Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven

Nick Ashford


1942 - 2011

Nick Ashford, who along with wife Valerie Simpson helped set the gold standard for R&B duets, both as songwriters and performers, died of throat cancer Monday, August 22, 2011 in a New York hospital.

The songwriting team penned and produced almost all of the '60s hits for Motown's Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, including Ain't No Mountain High Enough, You're All I Need to Get By, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing and Your Precious Love. They also wrote hits for Chuck Jackson, The Shirelles, Maxine Brown and the Fifth Dimension.

The two performed together as “Valerie and Nick” in 1964 but really didn’t score any major hits as performers until the 70s and 80s.

He was 69 years young.

Jerry Leiber


1933 - 2011

One half of the songwriting team known as Leiber/Stoller has passed away. Jerry Leiber died Monday, August 22, 2011 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA of cardiopulmonary failure.

Jerry Leiber was the lyricist of the songwriting team that brought you hits like “Hound Dog”, “Poison Ivy” and “There Goes My Baby”. Leiber and his partner, Mike Stoller, created some of the most recognizable and biggest selling songs from the 50s & 60s. Their creations were recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to the Coasters to the Drifters to Frank Sinatra to Peggy Lee.

Their playlist began back in the early 1950s with artists like Little Willie Littlefield who recorded “K.C. Lovin” (known as “Kansas City” when it was recorded by Wilbert Harrison in 1959), Big Mama Thornton, who recorded the original version of “Hound Dog”, and the Robins, members of whom would go on to form the Coasters. They wrote some of rock’s earliest material like “Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots” (recorded by the Cheers), “Riot In Cell Block Number 9” (recorded by the aforementioned Robins), and “Love Potion No. 9” (originally recorded by the Clovers). As a songwriting team they scored no less than 15 number one songs by 10 different artists in multiple genres.

According to several sources, Leiber and Stoller didn’t care for a particular recording of one of their biggest hits – Elvis’ version of “Hound Dog”. The song was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton back in 1952. When Elvis cut his version of the song four years later, he changed some of the lyrics. In their dual autobiography “Hound Dog”, Mike Stoller says he was annoyed by Elvis’ version, but liked the "edge of danger and mystery" Elvis brought to the song.

But Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller didn’t just write hits, they produced them too. As producers they worked with artists like Jay and the Americans (She Cried), The Exciters (Tell Him) and even The Stealers Wheel (Stuck In The Middle With You).

The two were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1994 they had a star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (located at 7083 Hollywood Blvd). That same year their handprints were placed into the Hollywood Rockwalk. In 1995, a musical based on Leiber and Stoller songs, "Smokey Joe's Cafe," opened on Broadway and ran for more than 2,000 performances.

Jerry Leiber was 78 years young.

Gene McDaniels

Singer/Songwriter best known for "A Hundred Pounds of Clay"

1935 - 2011

Gene McDaniels best known for hits like “A Hundred Pounds of Clay” and "Tower of Strength," died at his Maine home on Friday, July 29, 2011. McDaniels was born Feb. 12, 1935 in Kansas and lived in Omaha until moving to Los Angeles. During the early 1960s McDaniels reached the top 10 on the Billboard charts three times over the course of two years. His highest mark, No. 3, came for "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" in 1961. That same year his "Tower of Strength" reached No. 5 and later "Chip Chip," at No. 10. Lesser hits followed but he made his biggest impact writing soul and R&B standards for others. McDaniels' best known track, "Feel Like Makin' Love," was a chart-topping hit for Roberta Flack in 1974 (not to be confused with the Bad Company track) and he delivered songs for other legends such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Johnny Mathis. He was 76 years young.