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.

Johnny Nash
Singer Johnny Nash records in the studio in circa 1958 in New York. (Photo by PoPsie Randolph/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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.

Celebrating Singer Songwriter Johnny Nash
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