Johnny Nash, singer of ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, dies at 80

The late, Johnny Nash

I Can See Clearly Now singer, Johnny Nash has died. Nash was 80-year-old.

According to his son, Johnny Nash Jr, the singer and songwriter, actor, and producer died on Tuesday (October 8).

Nash has been in declining health and died of natural causes at home in Houston, the city of his birth.

Nash was in his early 30s when I Can See Clearly Now topped the charts in 1972. In the mid-1950s, he was a teenager covering Darn That Dream and other standards, his light tenor likened to the voice of Johnny Mathis. A decade later, he was co-running a record company, had become a rare American-born singer of reggae, and helped launch the career of his friend Bob Marley.

Nash praised “the vibes of this little island” when speaking of Jamaica, and he was among the first artists to bring reggae to US audiences. He peaked commercially in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he had hits with Hold Me Tight, You Got Soul, an early version of Marley’s Stir It Up and I Can See Clearly Now, still his signature song.

Reportedly written by Nash while recovering from cataract surgery, I Can See Clearly Now was a story of overcoming hard times that itself raised the spirits of countless listeners, with its swelling pop-reggae groove, promise of a “bright, bright sunshiny day” and Nash’s gospel-style exclamation midway, “Look straight ahead, nothing but blue skies!”, a backing chorus lifting the words into the heavens.

Although overlooked by Grammys judges, I Can See Clearly Now was covered by artists ranging from Ray Charles and Donny Osmond to Soul Asylum and Jimmy Cliff, whose version was featured in the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings”.