Singer Johnny Nash, who rose to fame with ‘I Can See Clearly Now,’ is no more. The singer died on Tuesday at his Houston home. The singer-songwriter, who had been suffering from health issues for quite some time now, died of natural causes at the age of 80.
Johnny’s son, Johnny Nash Jr., shared the news with The Associated Press.
Johnny Nash rose from pop crooner to become an early reggae star in his early 30s with the 1972 song ‘I Can See Clearly Now’. Before this, he sang in the choir at a Progressive New Hope Baptist Church in South Central Houston as a child. In 1953, Nash sang the covers of R&B hits on Matinee and from 1956 he sang on Arthur Godfrey’s radio and television programs for seven years.
Talking about one of his major hits, ‘I Can See Clearly Now,’ it was reportedly written by Johnny Nash while recovering from cataract surgery, The song was a story of overcoming hard times. The track raised the spirits of many listeners, with its pop-reggae groove, and gospel-style exclamation midway. One of these gospel-styled exclamation lines was ‘Look straight ahead, nothing but blue skies!’
Some of his cover works include Doris Days A Very Special Love and a collaboration with peers Paul Anka and George Hamilton IV on the wholesome The Ten Commandments (of Love). He also appeared in films including Take a Giant Step, where he played a high school student rebelling against how the Civil War is taught and Key Witness, a crime drama also starring Dennis Hopper and Jeffrey Hunter.
One of the first non-Jamaican artists to record reggae music in Kingston, Johnny Nash, even helped launch the career of Bob Marley. In the 1960s, Nash signed up Marley and the Wailers, who recorded Reggae On Broadway and dozens of other songs for JAD (Nash’s music label).
Johnny Nash’s covers of Stir It Up and Guava Jelly brought Marley’s writing to a general audience. The two also collaborated on You Poured Sugar On Me, which appeared on the I Can See Clearly Now album.
May his soul rest in peace.