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Johnny Nash, Known For Reggae Hit 'I Can See Clearly Now,' Dies At 80

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. This is a song you may have in your head even if you were not alive when it was a No. 1 hit on Billboard in 1972.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW")

JOHNNY NASH: (Singing) I can see clearly now - the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It's going to be a bright, bright, bright, bright, sunshiny day.

INSKEEP: It's the music of Johnny Nash, who died yesterday at the age of 80.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Johnny Nash grew up singing in his church in Houston. And by the time he was 13, he had his own local TV show. Soon, he was making regular national appearances on the Arthur Godfrey show. And then he had his first hit in 1957 with this cover of Doris Day's "A Very Special Love."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A VERY SPECIAL LOVE")

NASH: (Singing) Any time at all you're near me, because you're near, you cheer me. That's a very special reason for a very special love.

INSKEEP: Johnny Nash lived several showbiz lives over the course of one. He branched out into acting. He helped run a record label. And after he moved to Jamaica in 1965, Nash worked to make reggae music known outside of that country. He praised the, quote, "vibe of this little island."

KING: While he was there, he made friends with some local musicians, including Bob Marley. It was Nash who first introduced Marley to the world with his 1972 recording of the song "Stir It Up."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STIR IT UP")

NASH: (Singing) Stir it up, little darling. Stir it up. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Stir it up, little darling.

INSKEEP: Johnny Nash died yesterday at home in Houston. His son says the musician had been in declining health. He was 80.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STIR IT UP")

NASH: (Singing) Stir it up. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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