Thanks to this and his other reggae-influenced songs, Johnny Nash is associated with Jamaica, but he was from Texas. Born in Houston in 1940, he sang in church and at 13 got a gig singing on a local TV show called Matinee
, becoming one of the few black faces on the screen. At 16, he got a record deal with ABC Paramount and performed regularly on The Arthur Godfrey Show
, a national broadcast. During this time, he recorded anodyne songs "A Very Special Love" and "Almost In Your Arms" which were minor hits thanks to his exposure on TV.
After bouncing around to different record companies, he had a breakthrough in 1967 when he went to Jamaica and recorded his song "Hold Me Tight" and a cover of Sam Cooke's "Cupid
" with a local rhythm section. Both songs became hits in Jamaica, and over the next two years also charted in the UK and the United States. By 1972, "Cecilia
" and "Mother And Child Reunion
" found some success in the States incorporating reggae rhythms, and Nash followed that trend with "I Can See Clearly Now."
Nash had legitimate reggae credentials: Bob Marley (before he became crazy famous) was an assistant producer and session player on the album, and also wrote three of the songs, including "Stir It Up
," which became Nash's next - and final - hit. Nash died on October 6, 2020 at 80.