Lee 'Scratch' Perry: Tributes paid to the 'true legend' of reggae


Lee Scratch Perry 2.jpg (99 KB)

Tributes have been paid to the legendary Jamaican singer and music producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, who has died at the age of 85.

He died in hospital in Lucea, north-west Jamaica, local media reported.

Perry is known for his pioneering experiments in dub, which revolutionised not only reggae, but also hip hop, dance and other genres.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness called him "unforgettable" and praised his "sterling contribution" to music.

The Beastie Boys, who first worked with Perry when he opened for them in Japan in 1996 before they joined forces on the track Dr Lee PhD as party of 1998's Hello Nasty album, hailed the musician's "pioneering spirit".

"We are truly grateful to have been inspired by and collaborated with this true legend," the group said in a tweet.

Lee Scratch Perry 6 Beastie Boys.jpg (145 KB)

Flying Lotus, whose real name is Steven Ellison, wrote on Twitter: "Blessed journey into the infinite. RIP Lee 'Scratch' Perry."

Lee Scratch Perry 7 Yasuke.jpg (98 KB)

Rapper Lupe Fiasco also remembered Perry, tweeting: "African blood is flowing through I veins so I and I shall never fade away."

Glastonbury Festival's Emily Eavis hailed the singer as a "musical genius".

Eavis tweeted: "RIP the almighty Lee 'Scratch' Perry, musical genius, free spirit and a regular Glastonbury performer. We shall miss him."

Lee Scratch Perry 8 Emily Eavis.jpg (140 KB)

Music legends

Perry was born in rural Jamaica in 1936 and moved to the capital Kingston in the early 1960s.

In a 1984 interview with NME magazine, he said: "My father worked on the road, my mother in the fields. We were very poor. I went to school… I learned nothing at all. Everything I have learned has come from nature."

He started his music career in the 1950s as an assistant at a reggae music label, before moving up to become a recording artist with the same label.

Over the next seven decades Perry went on to work with a number of fellow music legends, including Bob Marley and the Beastie Boys.

Lee Scratch Perry 3.jpg (140 KB)  Lee Scratch Perry 4.jpg (62 KB)
Perry, pictured here in 1984, said everything he learned had "come from nature"

He also won a Grammy in 2002, was nominated four other times - in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2014 - and received a Jamaican national honour, the Order of Distinction.

Our own Neil Neale who presents the "Rockers Revival Show" on a Saturday morning wrote :

" Lee "Scratch" Perry's death is a massive loss on many levels, but perhaps the most overwhelming aspect of it is realising how much a single person can transform music on the whole. 
There have been numerous books, films, and other media documenting the Jamaican producer's biographical information, so I'll keep that to a minimum
Born Rainford Hugh Perry in Kendal, by his teenage years he had left school and started recording reggae and ska tracks for various labels, eventually launching his own label, studio, and solo career 
By the late ‘60s. Perry, nicknamed "Scratch," or "The Upsetter," developed a one-of-a-kind production sound that graced not just a wide swath of landmark reggae records, but also breathed weird life into productions from rock and punk acts. He was active without stopping for for over sixty years, and before he sadly passed at age 85 on August 29, 2021, his boundless creative approach helped lay the foundation for many tangents of reggae, as well as what germinated into hip hop, electronic music, post-punk, noise, and much more.
Modern pop production is still catching up to ideas Perry played with decades earlier. Even if you've never heard a note of music Lee Perry was involved with, the odds are good that you're a fan of something that stems from ground he broke "

In a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone, Keith Richards described Perry as "the Salvador Dali of music".

"He's a mystery. The world is his instrument. You just have to listen," Richards said. "More than a producer, he knows how to inspire the artist's soul."

"RIP to the King", wrote British rapper Ghostpoet.

Lee Scratch Perry 5.jpg (133 KB)


Log in to comment
keithseal, 2 months ago
His music was a big part of my life in the 60s. So many Reggae tunes 67/68/69 The skinhead years ! I often listen to his music today & get a Buzz when I play some on my shows on crackers radio. A great loss & thank you for the music Rip Lee He is one of the last early pioneers of Rock Steady / Ska / + Heart beat Reggae as he called it.