'I Can See Clearly Now' Singer, Johnny Nash, Dies At 80

'I Can See Clearly Now' Singer, Johnny Nash, Dies At 80

The news was confirmed by his son Johnny Nash Jr. who said his health had been declining for the last few years.

Image Source: Getty Images/ American singer Johnny Nash on his first visit to London, 3rd September 1968. (Photo by Ron Case/Keystone/Hulton Archive)

Johnny Nash, a singer-songwriter and performer best known for the super hit song "I Can See Clearly Now", has died of natural causes at his Houston home. The news was confirmed on Tuesday by his son Johnny Nash Jr. who said his health had been declining for the last few years. He was 80.




The musician made his first major-label debut back in 1957 with the song "A Teenager Sings The Blues". He switched over from pop to reggae and even became of the first-ever non-Jamaican singers to record reggae in Kingston, Jamaica, reports The Guardian. When he was in his early 30s in 1972, Nash released the iconic song "I Can See Clearly Now".  It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it remained for the four consecutive weeks. The song would go on to be sold several million times in subsequent years.




Nash had donned several hats in showbiz including covering "Darn That Dream" as a teenager in the mid-50s. A decade later, he had become a rare American-born reggae singer who was among the first artists to bring reggae to the United States. At this time, he was also co-running a record company while helping with the launch of his friend Bob Marley's career.  Nash peaked commercially during the late 60s and early 70s with popular hits such as "Hold Me Tight", "You Got Soul", an early version of Marley’s "Stir It Up", and "I Can See Clearly Now" a song he's still known for to this day. The song was reportedly written when he was recovering from cataract surgery. It talked about overcoming hard times and had a pop-reggae groove. Robert Christgau, a rock critic, called the song "2 minutes and 48 seconds of undiluted inspiration".




Even though the song was passed upon by Grammys judges, "I Can See Clearly Now" received significant praise as it was constantly covered by artists including Ray Charles and Donny Osmond to Soul Asylum and Jimmy Cliff, whose version was featured in the 1993 movie Cool Runnings. The song also featured in Thelma and Louise and also on a Windex commercial, with several websites and cataract procedures referring to the song.




Born John Lester Nash Jnr, he started singing in church before going on to have his own show on Houston television at the age of 13. In a few years, he grew to garner a national following after he appeared on The Arthur Godfrey Show, where he performed the hit cover of "Doris Days A Very Special Love" and collaboration with peers Paul Anka and George Hamilton IV on the wholesome "The Teen Commandments (of Love)".





Nash also had roles as an actor in films like Take a Giant Step, in which he played as a high school student rebelling against how the Civil War is taught, and Key Witness, a crime drama starring Dennis Hopper and Jeffrey Hunter. In an interview with Cameron Crowe, who wrote for Zoo World Magazine in 1973, Nash spoke about music passionately and said: "I feel that music is universal. 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."




The news of his death wasn't received well by the internet who went on to curse the year 2020 for the sheer number of losses it has brought upon us. Actor John Cusack wrote: "I hate this fucking year @RexChapman: 2020 is the worst. “I Can See Clearly Now” Johnny Nash has passed away at age 80. Rest, Sir." Kenny BooYah added: "Johnny Nash sang one of the most iconic songs of the 20th Century. No one will ever sing that song like he did. May he Rest In Peace."




Besides his son, Nash is survived by his daughter Monica and his wife Carli.




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