Johnny Nash dies at 80

By Brian Kim, Staff Writer

Johnny Nash, widely known for his hit song, “I Can See Clearly Now”—which reached No.1 on the 1972 Billboard charts and stayed there for four weeks—was an influential musician for his contributions toward expanding reggae music. Roughly four months following the song’s release, the single sold over one million copies, earning Nash the gold disc. After this massive achievement, the American music audience was forever influenced by his reggae music style. “I Can See Clearly Now” has been featured in movies, TV shows, commercials, and more, resulting in an iconic song that digs deep into American culture itself.


In 1968, Nash introduced a combination of pop and reggae songs through his album “Hold Me Tight”. After its release, the title track even reached the Billboard Top 10. Meanwhile, other songs from the album, including hybrid tracks “Stir it Up” and “Guava Jelly,” reached the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Similarly to his other hit “I Can See Clearly Now,” various songs in his 1968 album stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for more than four weeks.


Johnny Nash likewise performed for different forms of entertainment. Nash sang the opening for the American-Canadian show, The Mighty Hercules. He was featured on Mr. Godfrey’s radio podcasts for his soothing and clear voice. Nash even played roles of famous characters in movies, such as Spence Scott from “Take a Giant Step,” Robert in “Want So Much to Believe,” and Apple from “Key Witness.”


During a promotional campaign to Jamaica in 1965 with his business partner Danny Simms, Nash met Bob Marley at a Rastafarian ceremony. Impressed by his talent, Nash signed Marley into his group, The Wailers, about two years after he arrived in Jamaica. Although the two became relatively close and even made the hit song, “Stir It Up,” the idea that Marley would write the lyrics for Johnny Nash to sing caused a rift between the two. This leads to constant tension over the rights to their music. Aside from the start of Marley and Nash’s relationship in Jamaica, this business trip influenced Johnny in Jamaican reggae culture as rocksteady and ska began to rise in musical popularity, resulting in him creating the 1969 Number 5 hit single, “Hold Me Tight.”


On the morning of Tuesday, October 6th, 2020,  Johnny Nash passed away. His son, John Nash III, was able to confirm his death as natural causes. Johnny Nash died at the age of 80.