The legendary American musician who is known for the hit 1972 “I can see clearly now” departed last Tuesday. He was 80. He died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family, as reported by his son. Nash is credited with popularising reggae music in the early 70s. He was one of the first non-Jamaican artists to record reggae music.
Johnny Nash Early life and career
Nash was born in Houston, Texas. As a child, he used to sing in the choir at the church. Nash made his first career debut with his full-length single “A teenager Sings The Blues.” He had his first smash hit in early 1958 with “A very special love.” This was a cover of Doris Day.
In 1964, Nash and his manager Danny Sims together formed the JoDa Records. They released the first single under the record, “All I Really Want to be Is Me.” However, things did not go out as planned for them. The records were filed for bankruptcy two years later. They then moved on to marketing American singers to Jamaica.
Nash had a top 5 hit in the US Billboard R&B chart in the mid-60s. Nash and Danny moved to Jamaica later, where they started Cayman Music, a music distribution business in Jamaica. In the latter half of the 1960s, Nash was introduced to the local music scene by Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Rita Marley.
Nash, Arthur Jenkins and Sims together created a new record label JAD Records in 1967. They recorded their first album in Kingston. Nash’s single “ Hold me Tight”, released in 1968 was a hit, both in the US and the UK.
“I can see Clearly Now” was the artists all-time top hit. The music sold over one million copies around the world. It reached Billboard Hot 100 on November 4, 1972. He won the gold disc by R.I.A.A. It had even appeared in the 1993 Disney Movie Cool Runnings by Jimmy Cliff.
“Music is Universal”
In a 1973 interview with Zoo World Magazine, Nash told the interviewer that he was optimistic that people would love him and his music. He said. “I feel that music is universal. Music is for the ears and not the age. Everybody likes music… from eight to eighty.” and “There are some people who say that they hate music. I’ve run into a few, but I’m not sure I believe them. Maybe they have never been without music. Know what I mean?” He added.
Nash also extended his talents to acting. He appeared in the 1959 movie “Take a Giant Step”. He even won the Silver Sail Award for his performance from the Locarno International film festival. He had also acted in 2960 crime drama, Key Witness and the 1971 Swedish Romance Vill Sa Garna Tro.
The New York Times Magazine ranked Nash among hundreds of artists whose music materials were destroyed in the Universal Fire 2008. The music world mourns for the loss of the artist. Artist John Cusak said. “Thank you Mr Mash0for all the love in your music- and for letting us use our great song-RIP.” He is survived by his son Johnny Jr, daughter Monica and wife Carli Nash.