Johnny Nash, best known for the ‘70s hit, “I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone” has died. Nash passed away from natural causes at his home in Houston on Tuesday (Oct. 6), his son and namesake confirmed to the Associated Press. He was 80.
Born in Houston in 1940, Nash started out singing in the church choir before performing music covers on a local variety show. In 1957, Nash landed a record deal with ABC-Paramount and released his debut single, “A Teenager Sings the Blues.” The following year, Nash earned his first charting single with “A Very Special Love,” originally recorded by Doris Day. Nash bounced around to different record labels, and worked as an actor, before linking with manager and business partner, Danny Simms, and launching the label JAD Records in 1964.
Despite releasing the top five hit single, “Let’s Move and Groove Together,” JAD Records went bankrupt within a couple of years of its launch. Meanwhile, Simms moved to Jamaica and opened a publishing company, Cayman Music. Nash flew out to Jamaica and was later introduced to Bob Marley and the Wailers at a party. After watching them perform, Nash signed them to a publishing deal. Nash, who had hopes of bringing the reggae sound stateside since it had yet to break in the U.S., worked closely with Marley with whom he collaborated on several songs. In the ’70s, Nash took Marley with him to the U.K., where he was arguably a bigger star than in America.
His reggae-inspired “I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone,” was released in 1972. The platinum-selling single, penned after Nash underwent cataract surgery, was the title track off his album, which featured original compositions from Marley. “I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone” simultaneously topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts for a four weeks. Additionally, the song was used in the 1993 film Cool Runnings.
In 1975, Nash landed another hit single, “Tears on My Pillow,” which shot to No. 1 on the U.K. charts. In the late ’70s, Nash released covers of Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” and “Let’s Go Dancing,” but seemingly disappeared from music for several years thereafter. He returned with the 1986 album Here Again.
Two decades after the release of his final album, Nash resurfaced again, this time recording at SugarHill Recording Studios in his native of Houston. Some of his music was apparently lost in the Universal Studios fire in 2008. In recent years, Nash was reportedly working to digitize his music catalog.