Yesterday was sad day in the music world as not did Eddie Van Halen pass away, but so did a little lesser known (although just as noteworthy during his time), singer-songwriter, composer, and actor Johnny Nash. Primarily a reggae and pop singer, he was one of the first non-Jamaican artists to record reggae music in Kingston.
Even though his last hits were in the early 70s, thanks to being in “Oldies Radio” for 5 years of my radio career, I feel like I grew up listening to Johnny Nash and his hits, “I Can See Clearly Now,” “Stir It Up,” and my favorite “Hold Me Tight.”
Johnny was born in Houston, Texas and sang in the choir at Progressive New Hope Baptist Church in South Central Houston as a child. Beginning in 1953, Nash sang covers of R&B hits on Matinee, a local variety show on KPRC-TV. From 1956 he sang on Arthur Godfrey’s radio and television programs for a seven-year period. He was married three times, and had two children. He died at his home of natural causes in Houston on October 6, after a period of failing health. He was 80.
He made a string of albums for ABC-Paramount featuring dreamy pop ballads that highlighted his perennially sweet voice, including his first charting song, a cover of Doris Day’s “A Very Special Love” in 1958. He also started working as an actor and starred in the 1959 film Take a Giant Step.
Along with his own pop career, Johnny had a hand in the development of reggae. As one of the owners of the JAD Records label, he signed Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer to an exclusive deal early in their careers.
He released his last studio album, “Here Again,” in 1986; it contained a single that went to No. 47 on the U.K. singles chart. He quit the music business and settled into a quiet life in Texas.
To learn more about Johnny’s life, visit website, which hopefully will be maintained for years to come.
An avid record collector, lover of all desserts and sometimes seen wearing multiple Swatch watches, Dave has been lending his voice for over 20 years heard on such prominent brands as Intel, RCA, Eddie Bauer, Kellogg‘s, Pizza Hut, Lexus, and infomercial giants Guthy-Renker and Beachbody. His narration projects include Japan’s preeminent automobile series Best Motoring International and Hot Version, along with GTChannel, QVC, Universal Music Enterprises, and ViSalus Sciences.