Singer-songwriter Johnny Nash has died at age 80 at his Houston home of natural causes, according to CNN. Nash will forever be remembered for his 1972 four-week chart-topper, “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Nash, who was born in Houston in 1940, broke the color barrier while still a teenager on Texas TV when he became the first African American featured on a local variety show called Matinee. In 1956 Nash appeared on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts show, and he went on to release several Top 40 singles in the late-'50s and early-'60s. Nash had first traveled to Jamaica in 1958 while co-starring with Burt Lancaster in the movie Take A Giant Step, which featured Nash in a dramatic role portraying a black man coming of age in America.
Nash was fascinated by the island's scenery and music. He returned in the late '60s to use Jamaican musicians for a pair of singles, which included a cover of Sam Cooke's “Cupid,” which bombed in the U.S., but hit the Top 10 in the Britain. Nash relocated to London in 1971 and hired future reggae legend Bob Marley as a songwriter. Among the tunes that Marley wrote for Nash was “Stir It Up,” which was a hit for both Marley and Nash. Marley used the money he received from writing songs for Nash to start his Tuff Gong record label.