Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1973 Johnny Nash – Stir It Up

1973 Johnny Nash – Stir It Up

John Lester Nash Jr. grew up in the Houston area and sang in church choirs. He then began singing on a local weekly television show when he was 13. When he turned 16, they hired him to sing on the Arthur Godfrey show as Johnny Nash. During that time, ABC-Paramount Records signed him and he began releasing singles in 1956. One of his first singles was his impressive performance on A Teenager Sings The Blues.

Johnny first reached the charts in 1957. His single A Very Special Love reached #23 on the Hot 100. The next year, he joined Paul Anka and George Hamilton IV on the single The Teen Commandments, which peaked at #29 on the Hot 100.

Johnny appeared in a few dramatic roles in film and television beginning in the late fifties, but his acting career never took off. He continued releasing records on various record labels, and managed a few R&B hits, but didn’t get close to the top forty again until the late sixties. He and his manager (Danny Sims) formed their own record label in 1964 and signed the Cowsills. The label released several singles by Johnny and the single All I Really Want To Be Is Me by the Cowsills in 1965, but poor sales pushed the label into bankruptcy in 1966.

Johnny moved to Kingston, Jamaica, where he created the Cayman Music Company. He planned to join the Rocksteady movement, a musical style that evolved from ska and later turned into reggae. Johnny met Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and Rita Marley at a party. Bob introduced Johnny to the local music community.

Johnny, Danny, and producer Arthur Jenkins formed JAD Records and signed his new friends to contracts that paid them $50 a week. Johnny recorded his first successful Rocksteady single in 1967 when Hold Me Tight reached #5 on the US Hot 100 the next year.

The JAD Record Label went inactive in 1971.

Bob Marley’s Wailers backed Johnny when he began recording reggae. Johnny wrote the single that became his biggest hit. I Can See Clearly Now sold over a million copies and topped both the Hot 100 and the R&B chart in 1972.

Johnny also wrote his follow-up single, but it failed to chart at all. Bob Marley wrote Stir It Up, which Johnny recorded in 1973. That single peaked at #12 on the Hot 100.

Johnny continued regularly recording albums through 1979 and then recorded one last album in London in 1986.


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