Johnny Nash, the American reggae and pop singer behind the hit single ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, has died at the age of 80. His son John Nash III told TMZ that he passed away at his home in Houston on Tuesday (October 7). No cause of death was disclosed.
Born in Houston in 1940, Nash grew up singing in the church choir and later as a teenager, performed R&B covers on the local variety show Matinee. Having signed to ABC-Paramount at just 17 years old, he made his major label debut with 1957’s ‘A Teenager Sings the Blues’ and scored his first hit a year later with a cover of Doris Day’s ‘A Very Special Love’. Following the success of his 1965 single, ‘Let’s Move and Groove Together’, which rose to the Top 5 of the Billboard R&B charts, Nash and manager Danny Sims moved to Jamaica, where he was introduced and became friends with Bob Marley & The Wailers.
In 1967, Nash, Arthur Jenkins, and Sims co-founded a label called JAD Records and began recording at Federal Records, Jamaica’s first recording studio. His 1968 single ‘Hold Me Tight’ became a a top-five hit in both the U.S. and UK, followed by his cover of Marley’s ‘Stir it Up’ in 1971. His most famed reggae-influenced single, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, arrived in 1972. Though overlooked by the Grammys, the popular hit was later covered by artists including Ray Charles, Donny Osmond, Soul Asylum, and Jimmy Cliff. Nash retreated from the music scene in the late 1970s, returning briefly in 1986 with the album Here Again.
“I feel that music is universal,” Nash told Cameron Crowe, then writing for Zoo World Magazine, in 1973. “Music is for the ears and not the age. There are some people who say that they hate music. I’ve run into a few, but I’m not sure I believe them.”