John Lester Nash Jr. (August 19, 1940 – October 6, 2020)[1] was an American singer and songwriter, best known in the United States for his 1972 hit "I Can See Clearly Now".[2] Primarily a reggae and pop singer, he was one of the first non-Jamaican artists to record reggae music in Kingston.[3]

Johnny Nash
Nash in 1965
Nash in 1965
Background information
Birth nameJohn Lester Nash Jr.
Born(1940-08-19)August 19, 1940
Houston, Texas, U.S.
DiedOctober 6, 2020(2020-10-06) (aged 80)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
GenresTraditional pop, reggae
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, actor
Years active1956–2020
LabelsEpic, JAD, Cayman Music

Early life


Nash was born on August 19, 1940, in Houston, Texas, the son of Eliza (Armstrong) and John Lester Nash.[4] He sang in the choir at Progressive New Hope Baptist Church in South Central Houston as a child.[5][6] Beginning in 1953, Nash sang covers of R&B hits on Matinee, a local variety show on KPRC-TV;[5][6] from 1956 he sang on Arthur Godfrey's radio and television programs for a seven-year period.[5] Nash was married three times, and had two children.[7]





Signing with ABC-Paramount, Nash made his major label debut in 1957 with the single "A Teenager Sings the Blues". He had his first chart hit in early 1958 with a cover of Doris Day's "A Very Special Love".[5] Marketed as a rival to Johnny Mathis, Nash also enjoyed success as an actor early in his career, appearing in the screen version of playwright Louis S. Peterson's Take a Giant Step in 1959.[2][5] Nash won a Silver Sail Award for his performance from the Locarno International Film Festival. Nash continued releasing singles on a variety of labels such as Groove, Chess, Argo, and Warner Bros.[5] The song "The Teen Commandments" by Paul Anka, George Hamilton IV, and Johnny Nash reached #14 on Canada's CHUM Charts, December 15, 1958.[8]



Nash sang the theme song to the syndicated animated cartoon series The Mighty Hercules, which ran on various television stations from 1963 to 1966.[9]

In 1964, Nash and manager Danny Sims formed JoDa Records in New York.[10] JoDa released The Cowsills' single "All I Really Want to Be Is Me".[11] Although JoDa filed for bankruptcy after only two years, Nash and Sims moved on to marketing American singers to Jamaica, owing to the low cost of recording in that country.[10]

In 1965, Nash had a top five hit in the US Billboard R&B chart, the ballad "Let's Move and Groove Together".[5] It was just outside the Top 40 in Canada at #44.[12] That year, he and Sims moved to Jamaica.[13] Their lawyer Newton Willoughby was the father of Jamaican radio host Neville Willoughby.[14] After selling off his old entertainment assets in New York, Sims opened a new music publishing business in Jamaica, Cayman Music.[10] Nash planned to try breaking the local rocksteady sound in the United States.[2] Around 1966 or 1967, Neville Willoughby took Nash to a Rastafarian party where Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers were performing.[13][10] Members Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and Rita Marley introduced Nash to the local music scene.[15] Nash signed all four to an exclusive publishing contract with Cayman Music for J$50 a week.[10]

In 1967, Nash, Arthur Jenkins, and Sims collaborated to create a new label, JAD Records (after their first names Johnny, Arthur, and Danny), and recorded their albums at Federal Records in Kingston.[10][16] JAD released Nash's rocksteady single "Hold Me Tight" in 1968; it became a top-five hit in both the U.S. and UK,[5] and number 1 in Canada.[17] The record sold well in Argentina. According to the January 25 issue of Cash Box, both Nash's version and a version by Anthony Swete were selling strongly.[18] It was charting alongside a version by Anthony Swete in the Argentina's Best Sellers chart.[19]



In 1971, Nash scored another UK hit with his cover of Marley's "Stir It Up".[5]

Nash's 1972 reggae-influenced single "I Can See Clearly Now" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in November 1972.[20] "I Can See Clearly Now" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 4, 1972, and remained atop the chart for four weeks, spending the same four weeks atop the adult contemporary chart. The I Can See Clearly Now album includes four original Marley compositions published by JAD: "Guava Jelly", "Comma Comma", "You Poured Sugar on Me", and the follow-up hit "Stir It Up". "There Are More Questions Than Answers" was a third hit single taken from the album.[21]

Nash was also a composer for the Swedish romance film Want So Much to Believe (1971),[22] in which he portrayed 'Robert'.[23] The movie soundtrack, partly instrumental reggae with strings, was co-composed by Bob Marley and arranged by Fred Jordan.[22]

JAD Records ceased to exist in 1971,[2] but it was revived in 1997 by American Marley specialist Roger Steffens and French musician and producer Bruno Blum for the Complete Bob Marley & the Wailers 1967–1972 ten-album series, for which several of the Nash-produced Marley and Tosh tracks were mixed or remixed by Blum for release. In the UK, his biggest hit was with the song "Tears on My Pillow" which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in July 1975 for one week.[24]

After a cover of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" in 1976 and "Let's Go Dancing" in 1979, for many years Nash seemed to have dropped out of sight.



Nash had a brief resurgence in the mid-1980s with the album Here Again (1986), which was preceded by the minor UK hit, "Rock Me Baby". Younger audiences were introduced to Nash's music with the appearance of Jimmy Cliff's cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" in Disney's 1993 hit film Cool Runnings, and Nash's original version appeared over the opening scene of John Cusack's 1997 film, Grosse Point Blank.[25]



In May 2006, Nash was singing again at SugarHill Recording Studios and at Tierra Studios in his native Houston. Working with SugarHill chief engineer Andy Bradley and Tierra Studios' Randy Miller, he began the work of transferring analog tapes of his songs from the 1970s and 1980s to Pro Tools digital format.[26][27]



Nash has four acting credits in film and television. In 1959, he had the lead role as Spencer Scott in Take a Giant Step, directed by Philip Leacock, one of the first black family films written by a black writer.[28] In 1960, he appeared as "Apple" alongside Dennis Hopper in the crime drama Key Witness.[2] In 1971, he played Robert in the Swedish romance Vill så gärna tro.[23]



Nash died of natural causes in his home, surrounded by close family in Houston on October 6, 2020, after a period of declining health.[7] He was 80.[29][30]

Selected discography




Source: AllMusic[31]

Year Title Peak chart positions Record label
1958 Johnny Nash ABC Paramount
1959 I Got Rhythm
Quiet Hour
1960 Let's Get Lost
1961 Studio Time
1964 Composer's Choice Argo
1968 Hold Me Tight 109 23 JAD
1969 Prince of Peace
Soul Folk
Love and Peace
1972 Teardrops in the Rain Cadet
I Can See Clearly Now 23 10 29 39 Epic
1973 My Merry-Go-Round 169 49
1974 Celebrate Life
1975 Tears on My Pillow CBS
1977 What a Wonderful World Epic
1978 Love Me Tender Bellaphon
1979 Let's Go Dancing Epic
1986 Here Again London
"–" denotes releases that did not chart.



Source: AllMusic[34]

Year Album UK
Certifications Record label
1974 Johnny Nash's Greatest Hits CBS
1977 Johnny Nash Collection 18 Epic
1981 Stir It Up Hallmark
1993 The Reggae Collection Epic
"–" denotes releases that did not chart.



Nash sang the theme song for the television cartoon series The Mighty Hercules, which aired in first-run syndication from 1963 to 1966.[37][38]



Source: AllMusic[39]

Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Certifications Album



1956 "A Teenager Sings the Blues"
b/w "Out of Town"
Non-album tracks
1957 "I'll Walk Alone"
b/w "The Ladder of Love"
"A Very Special Love"
b/w "Won't You Let Me Share My Love with You"
23 30
1958 "My Pledge to You"
b/w "It's So Easy to Say"
"Please Don't Go"
b/w "I Lost My Love Last Night"
"You're Looking at Me"
b/w "Truly Love"
"Almost in Your Arms"
b/w "Midnight Moonlight" (from Johnny Nash)
78 49 23
"The Teen Commandments"
Paul Anka, George Hamilton IV, Johnny Nash
B-side by Don Costa: "If You Learn to Pray"
29 46 14
1959 "Walk with Faith in Your Heart"
b/w "Roots of Heaven"
"As Time Goes By"
b/w "The Voice of Love"
43 48 25
"And the Angels Sing"
b/w "Baby, Baby, Baby"
I Got Rhythm
"Take a Giant Step"
b/w "But Not for Me"
119 Non-album tracks
"The Wish"
b/w "Too Proud"
1960 "Goodbye"
b/w "A Place in the Sun"
"Never My Love"
b/w "(You've Got) The Love I Love" (from I Got Rhythm)
"Let the Rest of the World Go By"
b/w "Music of Love" (non-album track)
Let's Get Lost
"Looks Like the End of the World"
b/w "We Kissed"
Non-album tracks
b/w "Kisses"
1961 "Some of Your Lovin'"
b/w "World of Tears"
104 93
"I Need Someone to Stand by Me"
Original B-side: "A House on the Hill"
Later B-side: "A Thousand Miles Away"
"I'm Counting on You"
b/w "I Lost My Baby"
"Too Much Love"
b/w "Love's Young Dream"
1962 "Don't Take Away Your Love"
b/w "Moment of Weakness"
"Ol' Man River"
b/w "My Dear Little Sweetheart"
120 91
1963 "I'm Movin' On"
b/w "Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women"
"I've Got a Lot to Offer Darling"
b/w "Helpless"
"Deep in the Heart of Harlem"
b/w "What Kind of Love Is This"
"Town of Lonely Hearts"
b/w "It's No Good for Me"
1964 "I'm Leaving"
b/w "Oh Mary Don't You Weep"
120 103
"Love Ain't Nothin'"
b/w "Talk to Me"
133 Teardrops in the Rain
"Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"
b/w "Always" (non-album track)
1965 "Strange Feeling"
b/w "Spring Is Here" (from Composer's Choice)
"Teardrops in the Rain"
b/w "I Know What I Want"
"Let's Move & Groove Together"
b/w "Understanding" (from Love Me Tender)
88 92 4 Non-album track
1966 "Get Myself Together"
b/w "Teardrops in the Rain"
Teardrops in the Rain
"One More Time"
b/w "Tryin' to Find Her"
Love Me Tender
b/w "Big City"
120 118 35
b/w "Perfumed Flower"
Non-album tracks
1967 "Good Goodness"
b/w "You Never Know"
"(I'm So) Glad You're My Baby"
b/w "Stormy"
1968 "Hold Me Tight"
b/w "Cupid"
5 7 21 20 5 1 4 Hold Me Tight
"You Got Soul"
b/w "Don't Cry"
58 55 46 6 37 72
1969 "Lovey Dovey"
b/w "You Got Soul"
"We Try Harder"*
b/w "My Time"*
135 Johnny Nash & Kim Weston
"Sweet Charity"
b/w "People in Love" (from Hold Me Tight)
Non-album track
"Love and Peace"
b/w "People in Love" (from Hold Me Tight)
132 Love and Peace
b/w "Hold Me Tight"
39 36 38 6 30 Hold Me Tight
1970 "(What A) Groovey Feeling"
b/w "You Got Soul" – Part 1 (from Soul Folk)
102 131 Non-album tracks
"Falling in and Out of Love"
b/w "You Got to Change Your Ways" (from Hold Me Tight)
1972 "Stir It Up"
b/w "Cream Puff"
11 6 13 7 48 I Can See Clearly Now
"I Can See Clearly Now"
b/w "How Good It Is"
1 1 38 1 5 1 3
"There Are More Questions Than Answers"
b/w "Guava Jelly"
1973 "Stir It Up"
b/w "Ooh Baby You've Been Good to Me"
"My Merry-Go-Round"
b/w "(Oh Jesus) We're Trying to Get Back to You"
77 74 34 47 My Merry-Go-Round
"Ooh What a Feeling"
b/w "Yellow House"
103 38
1974 "Loving You"
b/w "Gonna Open Up My Heart Again"
91 67 40
"You Can't Go Halfway"
b/w "The Very First Time"
105 90 38 Celebrate Life
"Celebrate Life"
b/w "Beautiful Baby"
1975 "(You Gave Me Such) Good Vibrations"
b/w "The Very First Time"
"Tears on My Pillow"
b/w "Beautiful Baby" (from Celebrate Life)
1 69 Tears on My Pillow
(UK release only)
"Let's Be Friends"
b/w "The Edge of Love"
1976 "(What A) Wonderful World"
b/w "Rock It Baby (Baby We've Got a Date)" (from Tears on My Pillow)
103 82 66 34 25 96 What a Wonderful World
(UK release only)
1977 "That Woman"
b/w "Back in Time"
1979 "Closer"
b/w "Mr. Sea"
74 Let's Go Dancing
1985 "Rock Me Baby"
b/w "Love Theme from Rock Me Baby"
47 99 Here Again
1989 "I Can See Clearly Now" (remix)
CD single with three other tracks
54 Non-album track
"–" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ Re-released in US after success of "I Can See Clearly Now".


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