Johnny Nash, singer-songwriter of 'I Can See Clearly Now,' has died at 80

Johnny Nash in 1973
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/The Midnight Show)

Johnny Nash, the singer, songwriter, and producer of the enduring 1972 hit song "I Can See Clearly Now," died Tuesday. He was 80 and died from natural causes at home in Houston, his son, Johnny Nash Jr., told The Associated Press.

By the time Nash recorded his signature song, reportedly written as he was recovering from cataract surgery, he had already "lived several show business lives," AP reports, including teenage crooner, R&B singer, movie actor, record executive, and early booster of reggae and its leading light, Bob Marley. Nash met Marley and fellow Wailers Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston on a trip to Jamaica in 1968, helped sign the group to his JAD Records label, and brought Marley on tour to London in the early 1970s. His cover of Marley's "Stir It Up" helped bring reggae to an American audience, and the two collaborated on a song, "You Poured Sugar On Me."

Nash's last album, Here Again, came out in 1986. Always private, he withdrew entirely from the music business by the 1990s, moved to a ranch in Houston with his family, and managed rodeo shows.

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John Lester Nash Jr. was born in Houston in 1940, sang in church, and had is own show on Houston television at age 13, gaining a national audience after a few years with appearances on "The Arthur Godfrey Show." He was married three times, and he's survived by his wife, Carli Nash, and two children, Johnny Nash Jr. and daughter Monica.

In the late 1990s, Nash told The Gleaner in Jamaica that he had "achieved gratification in terms of the people I've had the chance to meet," and "a lifetime body of work I can be proud of is more important to me" than a Grammy or other "things of that nature."

"I Can See Clearly Now" sold more than a million copies, spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1972, and has been covered by a broad array of musical legends. You can watch Nash perform the song, dubbed "2 minutes and 48 seconds of undiluted inspiration" by Robert Christgau, below, from 1973. Peter Weber

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.