An incredibly sad week has brought about even more terrible news, as word has come in that Johnny Nash has passed away. Perhaps best known for his memorable 1972 hit song "I Can See Clearly Now," Nash's voice is known to millions as the song still gets regular play across the world. According to his son, Nash passed away of natural causes at his Houston home on Tuesday, and additional details surrounding the circumstances of his death are still unknown. He was 80 years old.
Born and raised in Houston, Nash sang in the local church choir before singing professionally as a teenager. He began his career singing R&B cover songs and frequently performed on Arthur Godfrey's radio and TV shows. With his voice getting him noticed, Nash signed on with ABC-Paramount in 1957 to release his first single with a major label, "A Teenager Sings the Blues." Soon after, he was charting with hit singles like a cover of Doris Day's "A Very Special Love" and the ballad "Let's Move and Groove Together." A performer at heart, Nash began appearing in movies like Take a Giant Step as well.
In the 1960's, Nash moved to Jamaica where he worked with his manager and longtime collaborator, Danny Sims, with his publishing company, Cayman Music. It was there where Nash became one of the first non-Jamaican singers to record reggae music in Kingston, per his official website. Nash was also the one who signed Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and Rita Marley to a publishing contract with Cayman Music after catching a performance of their band.
"Johnny loved reggae," Sims said of Nash's appreciation for the genre in a 2012 interview with the Houston Chronicle. "And he loved Bob and the guys. He taught Bob how to sing on the mic, and they taught Johnny how to play the reggae rhythm."
Inspired by reggae music, Nash released the popular song "I Can See Clearly Now" in 1972 to instant success. The single went gold, selling over one million copies by the end of the year. The song also hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year where it remained for four consecutive weeks. With cheery lyrics promising a "bright, sunshiny day," the upbeat song is instantly recognizable to anyone who's heard it.
Other artists have found success with new takes on the classic song. This includes a hit cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" by Lee Towers in 1982, which charted at No. 19. The 1990's saw the song make another return to the Billboard charts when it was covered by reggae singer Jimmy Cliff for the soundtrack of the 1993 movie Cool Runnings. This version of the song managed to reach the No. 18 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
At this difficult time, we offer our condolences to Nash's family and friends. Through his music, the legendary singer undeniably brought a lot of joy to many, many people for decades, and he is certainly going to be badly missed. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from CNN.