Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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NASH, Johnny

(b 19 August 1940, Houston TX) Pop/soul/reggae singer, songwriter. A breakthrough on Texas TV's KPRC Matinee led to rejection of a university place and signing by ABC Paramount; his only top 40 hit was 'A Very Special Love' '57 (also 'The Teen Commandments' '58 in trio with labelmates Paul Anka and George Hamilton IV); with roles in films such as Key Witness he seemed set for an MOR career. Then 'Let's Move And Groove Together' '65 was no. 4 in the soul chart; having visited the Caribbean while filming racial melodrama Take A Giant Step '58, he returned there to work with producer Byron Lee, making an an abrupt turn to reggae: his own 'Hold Me Tight' was no. 5 UK and USA, also made the U.S. soul chart; 'You Got Soul' and cover of Sam Cooke's 'Cupid' did well (his vocal debt to Cooke, hitherto unremarked, was now acknowledged). He and Sims patronized the then-unknown songwriter Bob Marley, recording his 'Guava Jelly' and reaching top 15 both UK/USA with his 'Stir It Up'; Nash's own 'I Can See Clearly Now' was no. 1 USA, no. 5 UK '72; LP of that title was no. 23 USA, top 40 UK, with four songs by Marley (and backing by the Wailers), Marley's first important royalties. He carried on in soulful/reggae style with 'Tears On My Pillow' (no. 1 UK '75), Cooke's 'What A Wonderful World' (no. 25 UK '76). In the end he had done better in the UK (six top ten entries '68-75) than in USA. He ran his own JAD and Joda labels with partner Danny Sims in '60s, writing Joey Dee hit 'What Kind Of Love Is This' and producer Sam & Bill's 'For Your Love' '65 (his own later hits were on Epic); he built his own studio in Jamaica and continued a sporadic career in films (i.e. Love Is Not A Game) during spells of residence in Sweden.