Nick Ashford’s memorial service Nile Rodgers, Paul Shaffer, Michael Douglas, Cissy Houston, Felicia Collins, Russ Titelman, Sylvia Rhone, Nona Hendryx, and Sue Simmons were among the luminaries who attended the Monday night memorial service for Nick Ashford at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. JIM BESSMAN was kind enough to write us an account of what went on because I could not be there. No sign of Diana Ross, Chaka Khan or Whitney Houston, but plenty of towering talent from Roberta Flack to Edgar Bronfman, Jr. participated. Nick’s death is a huge blow to his family, friends and the world. –RF

To those who spoke on his behalf at his memorial service yesterday, Nickolas Ashford was a giant, a saint, a talent whose contributions, as Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley dramatically stated, matched those of the likes of James Brown, Nina Simone, James Baldwin, Dr. Maya Angelou, Ralph Ellison and Duke Ellington, and, after a pause, Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.

To his family, of course, Ashford was also a loving husband, father and brother. But to his many friends at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church–and the general public who filled the building to capacity and those who couldn’t get in–he was a true man of the people. More than one speaker noted how he offered his radiant smile–the one that flashed out of the stunning portraits on the altar and in the vestibule–to anyone who approached him, accompanied, more often than not, by the warmest bear hug.

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