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Donny Meets Johnny Nash (Bermuda, 1963)

 

In 1963,  I was in Bermuda in the USAF as an Air Traffic Controller at the International Airport, but on Saturday night Mike McKenzie and I ruled on ZFB-1 Radio, where we became Donnie and Danny Dare. After the Show we often went to the famous Forty Thieves Nightclub where we'd serve as emcee's and be rewarded with free drinks. One of the acts we worked with there a couple of times was an extremely talented young singer named JOHNNY NASH (John Lester "Johnny" Nash, Jr.) . Although Johnny would have great success a few years later, he was polishing his act and trying to get a hit record at the time. 


A beautiful young woman and manager Danny Sims were traveling with him. We spent a lot of time with them during their stay and became pretty good friends, in fact when Mike (Danny) spent a weekend in NYC, Johnny showed him around. After discharge we went back to our former lives and took our act to a big Top 40 Radio Station, KELP.

 

A few years later I was Ops Manager and programming a Black Station in Houston, KCOH, when one day a record came in with Johnny's name on the label, it was titled: I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW. I took a listen, and immediately put it on the air...not because of our former friendship, but because it sounded like a smash.

 

The back story was that Johnny had been one of the first American artists to record in Jamaica and hear and meet the new Reggae Artists. He and Danny had their own Label, JAD Records, and met a local singing group, "Bob Marley and the Wailers" (Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Rita Marley) that they signed to JAD. The Wailers records didn't do very well at first, but Johnny loved the musical style and wrote a song with that reggae kind of feel, "I Can See Clearly Now," that he recorded in London in 1972.

 

After years of going for the Big One, Johnny Nash scored a Home Run, #1 on the Pop Chart, and over a million records sold. He also wrote one of the most covered songs of the time that became a standard. I never saw Johnny Nash again, but watching his great success made me feel good, he'd worked for years to score and it paid off. Johnny's 76 now, and his former partner Danny Sims, who also produced and managed Bob Marley for years died in 2012.

 

We found a beautifully restored and augmented video of Johnny singing his signature song with an orchestra from back in the day. Rock On!

 

A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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