Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, has joined the local and international entertainment community in expressing regret at the passing of singer-songwriter, actor and producer John Lester Nash Jr, “Johnny Nash”, who died Tuesday.
Nash is best known for his 1972 hit song “I Can See Clearly Now”, later covered by several artistes including Jamaica’s Jimmy Cliff. The hit, which infused the strains of Jamaican Reggae, has been described as the first number one Reggae hit in America, and caused Nash to become regarded as one of the early exponents of Reggae music.
Reflecting on Nash’s contribution to the evolution of the Reggae genre, Grange said: “His association with Jamaica’s indigenous music form also caused the rise of a then little-known group, Bob Marley and the Wailers, with whom Nash signed an exclusive deal and recorded from 1968-1972. His own recording of “I Can See Clearly Now” made him one of the first non-Jamaican recorders of Reggae music, no easy feat at the time”.
Nash produced the Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Reggae on Broadway in 1972 and later that year he recorded covers of Marley’s “Stir it Up” and “Guava Jelly”, exposing the musical genre and Bob Marley and the Wailers to a wider American audience. Nash would also record other notable Jamaican acts such as Byron Lee and the Dragonaires and Neville Willoughby.
“The Johnny Nash experience tells a very credible story of Reggae’s international influence since its inception. The fact that Johnny Nash and his manager Danny Sims were willing to move to Jamaica to record and produce reggae music meant that they were seeing the true potential of the music. Bob Marley and Peter Tosh wrote several songs for him and they in turn taught him how to play Reggae rhythm guitar. Johnny Nash covered a number of the Wailers’ songs. It was a wonderful setup full of young, exuberant talent. Today we see similar connections being made between young Jamaican artistes and other young artistes and producers all over the globe. Jamaica is grateful for his contribution and we know that his legacy will live on,” Grange said.