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Johnny Nash in 1965
|Birth name||John Lester Nash, Jr.|
|Born||August 19, 1940|
|Origin||Houston, Texas, U.S.|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, composer, actor|
John Lester "Johnny" Nash, Jr. (born August 19, 1940) is an American reggae singer-songwriter, best known in the US for his 1972 hit, "I Can See Clearly Now". He was also one of the first non-Jamaican singers to record reggae music in Kingston, Jamaica.
Life and musical career
Born John Lester Nash, Jr. in Houston, Texas, he began as a pop singer in the 1950s. He released four albums for ABC-Paramount, with his self named debut in 1958. Around 20 singles were released between 1958 & 1964 on a variety of labels such as Groove, Chess, Argo and Warners. He also enjoyed success as an actor early in his career appearing in the screen version of playwright Louis S. Peterson's Take a Giant Step. Nash won a Silver Sail Award for his performance from the Locarno International Film Festival.
In 1965, Johnny Nash and Danny Sims formed the JODA Records label in New York. One of the more interesting signings was four brothers from Newport, Rhode Island, ages 9, 11, 15 and 16, called The Cowsills; this was prior to their later signing with Mercury/Philips, and then MGM, for whom they had their first million-selling hit single, "The Rain, The Park & Other Things". The Cowsills went into the studio in New York with session musicians and recorded a number of songs like "Either You Do Or You Don't" and "You Can't Go Halfway". Eventually The Cowsills would write and record their own song, "All I Really Wanta Be Is Me", which became the group's debut single release on JODA (J-103).
Nash recorded several hits in Jamaica, where he travelled in early 1968, as his girlfriend had family links with local TV and radio host and novel writer Neville Willoughby. Nash planned to try breaking the local rocksteady sound in the United States. Willoughby introduced him to a local struggling vocal group, Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers. Members Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Rita Marley introduced him to the local scene. Nash signed all four to an exclusive recording contract with his JAD label and also an exclusive publishing contract with Cayman music. An advance was paid in the form of a weekly wage and JAD also financed some of their recordings, some with Byron Lee's Dragonaires and some with other local musicians such as Jackie Jackson and Lynn Taitt. None of the Marley and Tosh songs he produced were successful. Only two singles were released at the time: "Bend Down Low" (JAD 1968) and "Reggae on Broadway" (Columbia, 1972), which was recorded in London in 1972 on the same sessions that produced "I Can See Clearly Now."
"I Can See Clearly Now" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in November 1972. "I Can See Clearly Now" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 4, 1972 and remained atop the chart for four weeks, and also spent the same four weeks atop the adult contemporary chart. The I Can See Clearly Now album includes four original Marley compositions published by JAD: "Guava Jelly", "Comma Comma", "You Poured Sugar On Me" and the follow-up hit "Stir It Up". "There Are More Questions Than Answers" was a third hit single taken from the album.
Nash was also active as a composer in the Swedish romance Vill så gärna tro (1971) in which he portrayed Robert. The film soundtrack, partly instrumental reggae with strings, was co-composed by Bob Marley and arranged by Fred Jordan.
JAD Records ceased to exist in 1971, 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 1967-1972" ten-album series for which several of the Nash-produced Marley and Tosh tracks were mixed or remixed by Blum for release. Nash's biggest hits were the early reggae (rocksteady) tunes "Hold Me Tight" (a #5 hit in the US in 1968 and the UK, the tune used more than a year earlier in Score commercials) and "Stir It Up" (1971), the latter written by Bob Marley prior to Marley's international success. In the UK, his biggest hit was with the song "Tears On My Pillow" which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in July 1975 for one week.
After a cover of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" and "Let’s Go Dancing" in 1979, for many years he seemed to have dropped out of sight, with the exception of a brief resurgence in the mid-1980s with the album Here Again (1986), which was preceded by the minor UK hit, "Rock Me Baby"; however, in May 2006 he was singing again at SugarHill Recording Studios and at Tierra Studios in his native Houston. Working with SugarHill chief engineer Andy Bradley and Tierra Studios' grammy-winning Randy Miller, he began the work of transferring analog tapes of his songs from the 1970s and 1980s to Pro Tools digital format.
Johnny Nash has four acting credits in film and television. In 1959, he had the lead role as Spencer Scott in Take a Giant Step, directed by Philip Leacock, one of the first black family films written by a black. In 1960 he appeared as "Apple" alongside Dennis Hopper in the crime drama Key Witness. In 1971, he played Robert in the Swedish romance Vill så gärna tro.
|1957||"A Very Special Love"||23||30||-||-||-||-||-|
|1958||"You're Looking At Me"||-||98||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Almost In Your Arms"||78||49||-||-||-||-||-|
|"The Teen Commandments"
Paul Anka, George Hamilton IV, Johnny Nash
|1959||"Walk With Faith In Your Heart"||-||48||-||-||-||-||-|
|"As Time Goes By"||43||48||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Take a Giant Step"||-||119||-||-||-||-||-|
|1961||"Some of Your Lovin'"||104||93||-||-||-||-||-|
|1962||"Don't Take Away Your Love"||-||129||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Ol' Man River"||120||91||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Love Ain't Nothin'"||-||133||-||-||-||-||-|
|1965||"Let's Move & Groove (Together)"||88||92||4||-||-||-||-|
|1968||"Hold Me Tight"||5||7||21||20||5||1||4|
|"You Got Soul"||58||55||46||-||6||37||72|
|"We Try Harder*"||135||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Love and Peace"||132||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1970||"(What a) Groovey Feeling"||102||131||-||-||-||-||-|
|1972||"Stir It Up"||12||11||-||6||13||7||48|
|"I Can See Clearly Now"||1||1||38||1||5||1||3|
|"There Are More Questions Than Answers"||-||-||-||-||9||-||-|
|"Ooh What a Feeling"||103||-||-||38||-||-||-|
|"You Can't Go Halfway"||105||90||38||-||-||-||-|
|1975||"Tears on My Pillow"||-||-||-||-||1||-||69|
|"Let's Be Friends"||-||-||-||-||42||-||-|
|1976||"(What A) Wonderful World"||103||82||66||34||25||-||96|
|1985||"Rock Me Baby"||-||-||-||-||47||-||99|
|1989||"I Can See Clearly Now"
|*=with Kim Weston|
- 1958: Johnny Nash (Paramount)
- 1959: I Got Rhythm (Paramount)
- 1959: Quiet Hour (Paramount)
- 1960: Let's Get Lost (Paramount)
- 1961: Starring Johnny Nash (Paramount)
- 1964: Composer's Choice (Argo)
- 1968: Hold Me Tight (JAD) # 109 US
- 1969: Prince of Peace (JAD)
- 1969: Let's Go Dancing (Epic)
- 1972: Teardrops in the Rain (Cadet)
- 1972: I Can See Clearly Now (Epic) # 39 UK, # 23 US
- 1973: My Merry-Go-Round (Epic US), # 169 US
- 1974: Celebrate Life (Epic)
- 1975: Tears on My Pillow (CBS)
- 1977: What a Wonderful World (Epic)
- 1979: Let's Go Dancing (Epic)
- 1986: Here Again (London)
- 1977: Johnny Nash Collection # 18 UK
- 1979: The Johnny Nash Album (CBS)
- 1981: Stir It Up
- 1993: The Reggae Collection
- 1996: The Best of Johnny
- Rita Marley, Hettie Jones, No Woman, No Cry (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2004), Chapter 5. Accessed 2 July 2014
- Jelly-Schapiro, Joshua (June 11, 2012). "Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Island Records". Los Angeles Review of Books.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 317. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 387. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
-  Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Clearly Houston". Mixonline. 2006-01-06. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
- Reid, Mark. "Take a Giant Step, A Raisin in the Sun: The U.S. black family film". ejumpcut.org. Jump Cut. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- "Johnny Nash". IMDB. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 499. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B Singles: 1942-1995. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 320. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
- Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 545. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- Released in US after success of "I Can See Clearly Now"
- "Johnny Nash - My Merry-Go-Round (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
- "Johnny Nash - Tears On My Pillow (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
- "Johnny Nash - Let's Go Dancing (Vinyl, LP)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
- "The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
- "Johnny Nash Discography". Discogs.com. 1940-08-19. Retrieved 2015-08-26.