Nash, born in Houston, was one of the first non-Jamaican singers to record reggae music in Kingston, Jamaica.
According to his official website, Nash helped reggae legend Bob Marley sign a recording contract.
Nash’s covers of songs like Stir It Up helped bring Marley’s music to a broader audience, and the pair later collaborated on a track called You Poured Sugar On Me.
‘Music is for the ears and not the age’
In an interview with Zoo World magazine in 1973, Nash told journalist Cameron Crowe he hoped his music had wide appeal. “I feel that music is universal. Music is for the ears and not the age. Everybody likes music… from eight to 80.
“There are some people who say that they hate music,” he added. “I’ve run into a few, but I’m not sure I believe them. Maybe they have never been without music. Know what I mean?”
Reacting to the news of his death, singer Boy George credited Nash, with his “voice like silk”, as one of the artists who “made me fall in love” with reggae.
R.I.P to the reggae legend Johnny Nash. One of the artists who made me fall in love with lovers rock and reggae music in the early 70s. So many amazing tunes and a voice like silk. I have never really known a time with reggae music. He was one of the greatest. #JohnnyNash
British ska band The Beat described it as “a sad day for music”.
— John Cusack (@johncusack) October 7, 2020
Actress and singer Holly Robinson Peete offered: “Rest in peace Johnny Nash”, while fellow musician Rex Chapman added: “2020 is the worst… Rest, Sir.”
Besides his son John, Nash is survived by his wife, Carli.