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

The Nash hit, released after a tumultuous period in America, has been called 'an anthem for troubled times.'

American pop and reggae singer-songwriter Johnny Nash has died. Nash was best known for the 1972 hit song, “I Can See Clearly Now.” 

Nash, 80, died of natural causes at his home in Houston, Texas. 

In this Sept. 1968 photo, “I Can See Clearly Now” singer-songwriter Johnny Nash is shown during his first visit to London for various public appearances. (Photo by Ron Case/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Born August 19, 1940, in Houston, Nash began his career at a young age. He often appeared on local radio and television shows. 

His career began in the 1950s, when he reached the top 30 with “A Very Special Love” and “The Teen Commandments.” However, his 1972 hit was the peak of Nash’s career. 

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“I Can See Clearly Now” has been called “an anthem for troubled times” as the single came out in the tense period following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the resulting riots in many urban cities. 

Its lyrics weren’t a rose-colored picture of the times, but did express a vision of optimism and hope: “I can see clearly now / The rain is gone/ I can see all obstacles in my way / Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind / It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day.” 

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A native of Texas, Nash was one of the first non-Jamaican artists to record reggae music in Kingston. He moved to Jamaica in the mid-1960s, where he ultimately befriended, collaborated with and signed Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, the island icons known together as The Wailers

His biggest hit single, “I Can See Clearly Now,” clearly inspired by his love of reggae music, hit number-one on the Billboard chart in November 1972 and was remade by reggae star Jimmy Cliff in 1993. 

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According to Deadline, Nash was also an actor and appeared in several films. He was a co-star in the 1960 noir film Key Witness. He also starred in the socially-conscious 1959 drama Take a Giant Step

“I Can See Clearly Now” has been featured in dozens of films and TV shows, including Thelma & Louise, Grosse Pointe Blank, Antz, Crooklyn, The Wonder Years and The Boondocks. 

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