Johnny Nash who passed away earlier this month on the 6th October 2020 is an American pop singer- songwriter, probably 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.
Nash’s biggest hits were the early reggae (rocksteady) tunes ‘Hold Me Tight’ and ‘Stir It Up’, the latter written by Bob Marley prior to Marley’s international success. 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, The Wailers. Members Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh introduced him to the local scene. Nash signed all three to an exclusive publishing and recording contract with his JAD label and financed some of their recordings, some with Byron Lee’s Dragonaires and some with other local musicians such as Jackie Jackson and Lynn Taitt (In 1965, Johnny Nash and Danny Sims had formed the JAD label in New York).
Besides ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, 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’. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in November 1972.
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.
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.