Johnny Nash, singer best known for I Can See Clearly Now, dies aged 80

Nash, who had been in declining health, helped launch the career of Bob Marley

Singer Johnny Nash, who sang, I Can See Clearly Now, has died. Photograph: RB/Redferns

Singer Johnny Nash, who sang, I Can See Clearly Now, has died. Photograph: RB/Redferns

 

Johnny Nash, the singer-songwriter and performer of the million-selling anthem I Can See Clearly Now, has died at the age of 80.

Johnny Nash Jr said his father, who had been in declining health, died of natural causes at home in Houston, the city of his birth.

Nash was in his early 30s when I Can See Clearly Now topped the charts in 1972 after nearly two decades in the business. In the mid-1950s, he was a teenager covering Darn That Dream and other standards, his light tenor likened to the voice of Johnny Mathis. A decade later, he was co-running a record company, had become a rare American-born singer of reggae and helped launch the career of his friend Bob Marley. Nash praised “the vibes of this little island” when speaking of Jamaica, and he was among the first artists to bring reggae to US audiences.

He peaked commercially in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he had hits with Hold Me Tight, You Got Soul, an early version of Marley’s Stir It Up and I Can See Clearly Now, still his signature song.

Reportedly written by Nash while recovering from cataract surgery, I Can See Clearly Now was a story of overcoming hard times that itself raised the spirits of countless listeners, with its swelling pop-reggae groove and promise of a “bright, bright sunshiny day”.

The rock critic Robert Christgau would call the song, which Nash also produced, “2 minutes and 48 seconds of undiluted inspiration”.

He is survived by his son Johnny Nash Jr, daughter Monica and wife Carli Nash. – AP

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