I think it’s fair to say that for many Americans reggae began and ended with Bob Marley and the Wailers. Marley certainly deserves his due for spreading the music to this country and the world but the fact is that reggae has a history that pre-dates Marley and has continued after his untimely death. At a time when reggae was strictly the purview of Jamaican musicians, one American singer took a reggae song to the upper reaches of the charts.
Johnny Nash was born in Houston and began his career as a pop music singer in the 1950s. He signed with ABC-Paramount Records and released his self-titled debut album in 1958. In the six years that followed, Nash released singles on a variety of labels including Warners, Chess, and Argo in addition to the four albums he made for ABC-Paramount. The biggest hit he had in these years was “The Teen Commandments” which Nash recorded with Paul Anka and George Hamilton IV in 1958. The single reached #29 on the pop chart. The following year, Nash’s version of “As Time Goes By” just missed the Top 40 ... (more)