Johnny Nash, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ Singer, Dead at 80

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Johnny Nash, the singer whose “I Can See Clearly Now” topped the Billboard singles chart for four weeks in 1972, died October 6, 2020. No place or cause of death has been reported as of yet. Nash was 80.

Nash’s brother confirmed the death in a social media post.

Nash was no newcomer when the reggae-inflected #1 hit began its ascent. He had already reached the national top 5 four years earlier with “Hold Me Tight,” another song that drew upon the rhythms of Jamaica.

But even that came more than a decade after Nash first made his presence known to record-buying audiences. Born John Lester Nash Jr., in Houston, Tex., on Aug. 19, 1940, the singer launched his professional career in the late 1950s, scoring his first chart hit with “A Very Special Love,” which peaked at #23 in early 1958.  That song, released by the ABC-Paramount label, was followed by four further charting singles on that label before Nash switched to Warner Bros. Records, then Groove, JoDa and finally JAD, which released “Hold Me Tight.”

A series of followups on that label did not fare as well, but in 1972 Nash hit gold when he signed to Epic Records, which released “I Can See Clearly Now,” which Nash also wrote, arranged and produced. He continued to place singles on the chart through 1976.

Related: What were the other #1 hits of 1972?

Nash became one of the first American artists to record a successful Bob Marley cover when his version of “Stir It Up” reached #12 in 1973.

“I Can See Clearly Now” enjoyed a second life when it was covered by Jimmy Cliff, whose version peaked at #18 in 1994.

Nash continued to record at least into the late 1980s.

Fans of the children’s animated TV series, The Mighty Hercules, will recognize Nash’s vocal for the theme song.

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2020

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