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Happy 80th birthday to Johnny Nash! Born John Lester Nash, Jr on August 19, 1940 in Houston, Johnny was one of the first non-Jamaican singers to record reggae music in Kingston, Jamaica. Starting in 1956, Johnny sang on Arthur Godfrey’s Radio and TV shows for 7 years. He signed with ABC Paramount Records in 1957, and his first chart hit was “A Very Special Love” early in ’58. Johnny was marketed as a rival to Johnny Mathis, and specialized in romantic ballads. He also had success in the early days as an actor, including a role in “Take A Giant Step” in 1959. In 1964, he and his manager Danny Sims formed their own record label, but the venture went bankrupt within 2 years. Johnny scored a Top 5 R&B hit in ’65 with “Let’s Move and Groove Together”. He also moved to Jamaica that year with Sims.

More success came in 1968, with the Top 5 hit “Hold Me Tight”, which introduced the reggae beat to a large American audience. He followed with another reggae based hit with “Stir It Up”, a Bob Marley song. His biggest hit was in 1972, when “I Can See Clearly Now” sold over 1 million copies, and was Number 1 in the US for 4 weeks in November of ’72! That album had 4 Bob Marley songs on it, thus introducing Marley’s music to much of the world.

Here’s Johnny and his signature song, performed live on The Midnight Special TV show!

Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now

"The Midnight Show", 1973