Johnny Nash, singer of I Can See Clearly Now, dies at 80

Johnny Nash in 1975 Credit: PA

Reggae star Johnny Nash and creator of the song I Can See Clearly Now, has passed away aged 80, his son said.

Nash, who had been in declining health, died of natural causes at home in Houston, the city of his birth according to Johnny Nash Jr.

The singer was in his early 30s when I Can See Clearly Now topped the charts in 1972.

Nash began singing as a child and made his major label debut with the 1957 song A Teenager Sings the Blues.

As well as his career in reggae he was known to sing pop and co-ran a record company.

He was among the first artists to bring reggae to US audiences and famously helped launch the career of his friend Bob Marley.

He peaked commercially in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he had hits with Hold Me Tight, You Got Soul, Stir It Up and I Can See Clearly Now, still his signature song.

The rock critic Robert Christgau would call the song, which Nash also produced, “2 minutes and 48 seconds of undiluted inspiration".

The song has been covered by artists ranging from Ray Charles and Donny Osmond to Soul Asylum and Jimmy Cliff.

Nash told the Zoo World Magazine in 1973: “I feel that music is universal. Music is for the ears and not the age.

“There are some people who say that they hate music. I’ve run into a few, but I’m not sure I believe them.”

The fame of I Can See Clearly Now outlasted Nash’s own, with the singer rarely making the charts in the years following and by the 1990s he had essentially left the business.

His last album, Here Again, came out in 1986, although in recent years he was reportedly digitising his old work, some of which was lost in a 2008 fire at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

Nash was married three times, and had two children.

He had loved riding horses since childhood and as an adult lived with his family on a ranch in Houston, where for years he also managed rodeo shows at the Johnny Nash Indoor Arena.

In addition to his son, he is survived by daughter Monica and wife Carli Nash.