A Rockapaedia Obituary
Johnny Nash died aged eighty on sixth 0f October, 2020, of natural causes. He died at home in Houston, Texas, United States of America after a period of declining health. Johnny had been married three times, and was survived by two children.
Johnny was born in Houston and sang in the choir at Progressive New Hope Baptist Church in South Central Houston as a child. Starting in nineteen fifty-three Johnny sang covers of Rythm & Blues hits on Matinee, a local television variety show.
After signing with record label ABC-Paramount, Johnny made his major label debut in 1957 with the single "A Teenager Sings the Blues" and had his first chart hit in early 1958 with a cover of Doris Day's "A Very Special Love". Promoted as a rival to Johnny Mathis, Johnny Nash also found success as an actor early in his career, appearing in the screen version of playwright Louis S. Peterson's 'Take a Giant Step' in nineteen fifty-nine. He continued releasing singles on a variety of labels such as Groove, Chess, Argo, and Warner Bros.
In nineteen sixty-four, Johnny Nash and manager Danny Sims formed JoDa Records in New York. JoDa released The Cowsills' single "All I Really Want to Be Is Me" and Although JoDa filed for bankruptcy after only two years, Johnny Nash and Sims moved on to marketing American singers to Jamaica partly because of the low cost of recording there.
In nineteen sixty-five, Johnny had a top five hit in the US Billboard Rythm & Blues chart, the ballad "Let's Move and Groove Together" and also that year, he and Danny Sims moved to Jamaica and Neville Willoughby took Johnny Nash to a Rastafarian party where Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers were performing and who introduced Johnny to the local music scene. Johnny Nash then signed Bob and the Wailers to an exclusive publishing contract with Cayman Music.
In nineteen sixty-seven, Johnny Nash, Arthur Jenkins, and Danny 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. JAD Records released Johnny Nash's rocksteady single "Hold Me Tight" in nineteen sixty-eight and it became a top-five hit in both the U.S. and UK. In nineteen seventy-one, Johnny Nash scored another UK hit with his cover of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up".
Johnny Nash's nineteen seventy-two 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 nineteen seventy-two. "I Can See Clearly Now" reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November, nineteen seventy-two, and remained atop the chart for four weeks, spending the same four weeks atop the adult contemporary chart. "There Are More Questions Than Answers" was a third hit single taken from the album.
Johnny Nash was also a composer for the Swedish romance film 'Want So Much to Believe' in nineteen seventy-one, in which he portrayed 'Robert'. The movie soundtrack, partly instrumental reggae with strings, was co-composed by Bob Marley and arranged by Fred Jordan.
JAD Records ceased to exist in nineteen seventy-one, 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 nineteen sixty-seven–nineteen seventy-two ten-album series, for which several of the Johnny Nash-produced Marley and Tosh tracks were mixed or remixed by Blum for release. In the UK, Johnny's biggest hit was with the song "Tears on My Pillow" which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in July 1975 where it stayed for one week.
After a cover of Sam Cooke's song "Wonderful World" in 1976 and "Let's Go Dancing" in 1979, for many years Johnny Nash appeared to have dropped out of sight. He had a brief resurgence in the mid-1980's with the album 'Here Again', which was preceded by the minor UK hit, "Rock Me Baby". Younger audiences were introduced to Johnny Nash's music with the appearance of Jimmy Cliff's cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" in the Disney 1993 hit film 'Cool Runnings', and Johnny Nash's original version appeared over the opening scene of John Cusack's 1997 film, 'Grosse Point Blank'. In May 2006, Johnny Nash was singing again at SugarHill Recording Studios and at Tierra Studios in his native Houston. Working with Sugar Hill 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.