Lee “Scratch” Perry Dies at 85
Lee “Scratch” Perry, the Jamaican dub legend, has died, the Jamaica Observer and The Guardian report. Perry was at Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Jamaica when he died earlier today (August 29). A cause of death has not yet been revealed. He was 85 years old. Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s prime minister, tweeted a tribute to the iconic musician after the news of Perry’s death began to circulate. “My deep condolences to the family, friends, and fans of legendary record producer and singer, Rainford Hugh Perry OD, affectionately known as ‘Lee Scratch’ Perry,” Holness wrote.
Lee “Scratch” Perry, along with his band the Upsetters, helped spread the music of Jamaica around the world, producing records by groups like the Congos and Bob Marley & The Wailers, and serving as an influence on acts including the Clash and the Beastie Boys. Perry was born in Kendal, Jamaica in 1936. In the ’50s, Perry began working with Clement Coxsone Dodd, selling records and later working at Dodd’s recording studio, Studio One. Using this experience, he started his own label, Upsetter.
Perry released his innovative first single, “People Funny Boy” through the label, which highlighted his distinctive production technique. His studio experimentations—which included early uses of sampling and remixing—helped lead to the creation of the dub genre, which he solidified at Black Ark Studios—a new space he built in his backyard. After a series of successful albums with his band the Upsetters and countless production credits, Perry’s music was brought to new audiences during the 1980s, when he worked with British producer Adrian Sherwood.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Perry told The Guardian, “Music is magic. If you have good music you have good magic. If you have good magic you will be followed by good people.” Numerous artists such as El-P, Flying Lotus, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Mad Professor, and others have shared remembrances or statements in memory of Perry on social media.