Ain't No Mountain High Enough
|"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"|
|Single by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell|
|from the album United|
|B-side||"Give a Little Love"|
|Released||April 20, 1967|
|Recorded||Hitsville USA (Studio A)
December 26, 1966 and January 6, 11 & 29 and February 1, 1967
|Genre||Soul, rhythm and blues, pop|
|Writer(s)||Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson|
|Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell singles chronology|
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is an R&B/soul song written by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson in 1966 for the Tamla Motown label. The composition was first successful as a 1967 hit single recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, becoming a hit again in 1970 when recorded by former Supremes frontwoman Diana Ross. The song became Ross' first solo number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell original
The song was written by Ashford and Simpson prior to joining Motown. British soul singer Dusty Springfield wanted to record the song but the duo declined, hoping it would give them access to the Detroit-based label. As Valerie Simpson later recalled, "We played that song for her (Springfield) but wouldn't give it to her, because we wanted to hold that back. We felt like that could be our entry to Motown. Nick called it the 'golden egg'." 
The original 1967 version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was a top twenty hit. According to record producers, Terrell was a little nervous and intimidated during recording because she did not rehearse the lyrics. Terrell recorded her vocals alone with producers Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol, who added Gaye's vocal at a later date. "Ain't No Mountain" peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard pop charts, and went to number three on the R&B charts.
This original version of "Ain't No Mountain", produced by Fuqua and Bristol, was a care-free, danceable, and romantic love song that became the signature duet between Gaye and Terrell. Its success led to a string of more Ashford/Simpson penned duets (including "You're All I Need to Get By", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", and "Your Precious Love").
|"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"|
|Single by Diana Ross|
|from the album Diana Ross|
|B-side||"Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow"|
|Released||July 16, 1970|
|Recorded||Hitsville USA (Studio A)
March 13, March 14, and March 18, 1970
|Length||3:32 (single edit)
6:18 (album version)
|Producer(s)||Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson|
|Diana Ross singles chronology|
The Supremes & Temptations version
Diana Ross & The Supremes recorded a version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" which was more faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version as a duet with The Temptations. That song was an album cut from a joint LP released by Motown Records in 1968 on the two superstar groups, titled Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations.
Diana Ross solo version
In late 1969, after the Top 20 success of her first solo single, "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)", Ashford and Simpson had Ross re-record "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Initially, Ross was apprehensive, but was convinced to make the recording. The cover produced a version similar to gospel with elements of classical music strings (provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra), spoken word passages from Ross, with the Andantes, Jimmy Beavers, Joshie Armstead, and Ashford and Simpson as backing singers giving the song a soul and gospel vocal element.
Motown chief Berry Gordy did not like the record upon first hearing it. He hated the spoken-word passages and wanted the song to begin with the climactic chorus/bridge. It was not until radio stations nationwide were editing their own versions and adding it to their playlists that Ashford and Simpson were able to convince Gordy to release an edited three-minute version as a single. Ross' version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" rose up to number one on both the pop and R&B singles charts. The single sold, in just the USA, alone, 1,245,000 copies becoming a Gold Record and, Ross, receiving a Grammy Nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. This version is in the key of C minor.
1981 saw the recording by Inner Life of the underground dance classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", produced by Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael, remixed by Larry Levan, and released on the Salsoul label. The same year saw an upbeat disco version by the Boys Town Gang who recorded it as a medley with another Ashford & Simpson song, "Remember Me". The full version of this song is nearly 14 minutes long and can be found on their album Cruisin the Street.
In 1993 Sister Act 2 covered "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" both in the movie and soundtrack, mixing the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell and Diana Ross versions together.
Australian singer Jimmy Barnes released an album of soul covers titled Soul Deep in 1991, including his rock version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". This cover reached #28 in Australia in 1992.
The 2000 film Remember the Titans featured a version of the song performed by the cast.
Also in 2000, Dutch airline carrier KLM used the Supremes/Temptations version in a commercial.
Swedish pop group Play recorded a cover that appears on their 2003 album Replay and their 2004 album Don't Stop the Music. This song is mostly a cover of the Gaye/Terrell original, but uses elements from the Ross and Sister Act 2 versions; The song appears in the trailer of the 2006 film Last Holiday.
In 2005, the Diana Ross version was featured at the end of the animated film Chicken Little.
In 2006, Amy Winehouse recorded the song "Tears Dry On Their Own" for her album Back to Black, which keeps the chord progression, accompaniment arrangement, and instrumentation of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", but which contains a different sung melody with new lyrics written by Winehouse.
In 2013, Michael Bolton covered the song, which featured Kelly Rowland, for his 2013 album Ain't No Mountain High Enough – Tribute to Hitsville. That version was also more faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version.
- All vocals by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers and Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Ross Solo version
- Lead Vocals by Diana Ross
- Background Vocals by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Joshie Armstead, Jimmy Beavers, and The Andantes: Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with Valerie Simpson on the piano
- "Valerie Simpson interview; Ashford and Simpson remembered". Chicago Tribune.
- Chin, Brian (2001). Liner notes for Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: The Complete Duets. New York: Motown Records/UMG Recordings.
- Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits. New York, NY: Billboard Books, 2006. Print.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 501.
- Chart Position @ Australian-Charts.com Retrieved May 3, 2009
- Stefanie Heinzmann & Lionel Richie - Ain´t No Mountain High Enough (live on the German ECHO music awards 2009) on YouTube, video of the live performance (February 2009)
- "DHL Express presents "The International Specialists"". DHL. May 31, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
"War" by Edwin Starr
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Diana Ross version)
September 19, 1970 (three weeks)
"Cracklin' Rosie" by Neil Diamond
"Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" by Aretha Franklin
|Billboard Best Selling Soul number-one single
October 3, 1970
"I'll Be There" by The Jackson 5