The World Says Goodbye to Two Reggae Icons: Johnny Nash and Bunny Lee

Over the last 24 hours, the world has said goodbye to two Reggae icons: Singer/Songwriter Johnny Nash and Producer Bunny Lee.

On October 6, Johnny Nash, best known for his 1972 hit “I Can See Clearly Now,” died of natural causes at him home in Houston. He was 80-years-old.

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Although born in America and was initially known as a pop singer in the 1950’s, Nash had a love affair with Reggae music. In the 1960’s, he and Danny Sims formed JAD Records, and while living in Jamaica, the pair signed Bob Marley and other members of the group, The Wailers.

“Johnny loved reggae,” Sims told the Houston Chronicle in 2012. “And he loved Bob and the guys. He taught Bob how to sing on the mic, and they taught Johnny how to play the reggae rhythm.”

Nash ascended to new heights in music when he recorded the timeless record, “I Can See Clearly Now” in 1972. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 stayed in the top spot for four weeks, according to Billboard. The song returned to the Billboard charts when it was recorded by another reggae icon, Jimmy Cliff for the 1993 “Cool Runnings” movie soundtrack.

According to his website, Nash was one of the first non-Jamaican singers to record reggae music in Kingston, Jamaica.

Just hours after Nash’s death, news came that Bunny “Striker” Lee, legendary reggae producer had died. The producer, whose real name was Edward O’Sullivan Lee, died after battling kidney problems for several months. He was 79-years-old.

Lee, who grew up in Kingston, began his career as a record plugger for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label in 1962.

After establishing his place in the country’s musical landscape, Lee went on to produce classic hits such as Eric Donaldson’s ‘Cherry Oh Baby’, Delroy Wilson’s ‘Better Must Come’ and John Holt’s ‘Stick By Me’.

Lee was a pioneer of the United Kingdom reggae market, licensing his productions to the Palmer Brothers (Pama) and Trojan Records in the early 1970s. He also played an instrumental role in producing early dub music.

For his stellar contribution to Jamaican music, Lee had received the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican government in 2008.