Saturday, June 15, 2024

RIP The Great Johnny Nash, Age 80, Brought Reggae to America with “I Can See Clearly Now” in 1972


Johnny Nash has died at age 80. He wasn’t Jamaican– he was from Houston– but he loved reggae music and was responsible in part for making it popular in the US. In 1972, after a few years of trying to get hits and recording in Jamaica, he hit it big with the reggae inspired, “I Can See Clearly Now.” The song was number 1 for four weeks and has never left the radio. It’s also incredibly popular in commercials.

Nash kept recording and performing, but nothing came close to that popularity. He was quite friendly with Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, aka The Wailers. The follow up single to “I Can See Clearly” was a cover of Marley’s “Stir It Up,” which was a decent hit and is also heard often on the radio some 48 years later.

Reggae was really not known in the US widely until the early 70s. Paul Simon introduced the sound with “Mother and Child Reunion.” But it was Johnny Nash and “I Can See Clearly” that paved the way for Marley et al having so much success. Eric Clapton helped, too, with “I Shot the Sheriff” in 1973.

SO RIP Johnny Nash. Your song is being played somewhere right now.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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