Lee “Scratch” Perry, the pioneering reggae musician who produced some of the genre’s most groundbreaking albums, died in a Jamaican hospital on Sunday. He was 85 years old.
The Jamaican Observer first reported Perry’s death. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Perry was born in Kendal, Hanover, Jamaica as Rainford Hugh Perry, but later changed his name and moved to the nation’s capital, Kingston, where he made his musical debut as an apprentice at Studio One, a studio in leading recording in the region.
Perry was a singer, producer, and music engineering wizard all in one during his music career, which really started in the late 1960s when he formed his label Upsetter Records, named after his studio band The Upsetters. This label has produced several works for Bob Marley and the Wailers, including their hit song “Small Ax”, “Duppy Conqueror” and “Mr. Brun.”
Perry’s eccentric personal and vocal style matched his unorthodox approach to production – he often loops beats and remixes his vocals over it, using dubbing to create an otherworldly sound, something that doesn’t. had never been done before in the Reggae genre. These unusual but ethereal sounding methods helped it gain popularity not only in Jamaica, but in the UK and abroad throughout the 1970s.
After forming Upsetter Records, Perry established a second label, Black Ark Records in 1973. Although it was a backyard studio, Black Ark drew big names in the Reggae scene and Perry has produces artists such as Marley, Max Romeo and the Congos. In 2003, Perry won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with his album “Jamaican ET”.
Perry’s unusual approach to creating reggae earworms has caught the attention of prominent actors internationally and many have sought him out to produce their hip-hop albums – namely the Beastie Boys, who featured Perry as a vocalist on their 1998 album “Hello Nasty” (Perry sings on the song “Dr. Lee, PhD.”).
Beastie Boys frontman Mike D paid tribute to Perry Sunday. He posted a photo of Perry on Instagram and said: “We send as much love and respect as possible to Lee Perry who passed away today, his family and loved ones and the many people he has. influenced with his pioneering spirit and work. We are truly grateful to have been inspired and to have collaborated with this true legend. Let us all listen to his deep catalog in tribute.
Later in his career, Perry collaborated with artists like Animal Collective, Andrew WK and Moby.
“My sincere condolences to the family, friends and fans of legendary record producer and singer Rainford Hugh Perry OD, affectionately known as ‘Lee Scratch’ Perry,” said Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. tweeted on August 26. “Perry pioneered the development of dub music in the 1970s with his early adoption of studio effects to create new instrumentals from existing reggae tracks. Without a doubt, Lee Scratch Perry will be remembered for his remarkable contribution to the musical fraternity. That his soul rests in peace.”