Lee “Scratch” Perry, a producer who allowed reggae to conquer the world with Bob Marley, died Sunday in Lucea, Jamaica. He was the prime minister of that country, Andrew Holness, who confirmed the news.
“He died this morning when he was in Noel Holmes Hospital. I was 85 years old”, The president wrote on his Twitter account. Throughout his career, Perry was known by various nicknames such as “Brujo del reggae”, “Salvador Dalí del dub” -for his importance in creating this sound-, “The Upsetter” (“The alterator”), but he always made clear his love for Jamaican music and the responsibility in getting it to different countries.
He was the one who pushed Marley to leave his recording studio to establish himself as a top figure. He was born in 1936 in Kendal, Jamaica. He dropped out of school at age 15 before settling in Kingston in the 1960s. “My father worked in the street, my mother in the fields. We were very poor ”, counted to NME, in 1984 about the difficult moments that he lived in his childhood. “I didn’t learn anything in school. I learned everything on the street ”, he highlighted in that interview.
Beyond his work on consoles, the artist stood out as a singer. He was one of those responsible for promoting new styles such as dub, drum & bass, jungle, hip-hop and British punk. He was a producer of works by Bob Marley y The Wailers, The Congos, Adrian Sherwood, Beastie Boys and many others.
“He is the Salvador Dalí of music. The world is your instrument. More than a producer, he knows how to inspire the soul of the artist. Scratch is a shaman ”, he defined in an interview with the magazine Rolling Stone, the guitarist Keith Richards.
His first steps in the music industry were in the late 1950s, as a record seller at a Clement Coxsone Dodd venue. When the record store owner opened his famous Studio One, Perry started compose your own songsAlthough due to the producer’s distrust, the artist decided to cross paths and enter Joe Gibbs’ rival label, Amalgamated Records.
In those years he recorded his first great success, “People Funny BoyBut due to business problems, Perry founded his own label, Upsetter Records. His work interested young British people in the late ’70s, such as The Clash, who hired him as a producer for the simple “Complete Control”. Also, the band recorded the song “Police & Thieves”, composed by Perry with Junior Murvin.
His unstable personality and habitual LSD user led to paranoid situations such as burn down his studio in 1983 believing that he was possessed by the devil. “I created my sin, I burned my sin and I was born again,” he said about the curious fact.
Also, the musician and producer said: “Something very, very sad happened. I forgot to blow out a candle and my entire secret lab burned down. Everything that I collected throughout my life, my arts, my magic hats, my magic boots, all the crazy outfits that I wear in shows and the costumes of king, Pope, general, magician … all my electronic and study equipment , my magic microphone, books, CDs… Everything is gone !!! ”, wrote Perry on his Facebook. He also said that he was very sad and his wife was very angry.
“Without him, Bob Marley might have been an orphan arrow without his bow ”, wrote Francis Dordor, specialist producer, in the magazine los Inrockuptible.
His last visit to Argentina was in 2017, when he performed in Niceto with Nairobi. Local musicians like Mr. Flavio, bassist of the Fabulous Cadillacs, Juanchi Baleiron of Los Pericos and Guillermo Bonetto, singer of the Cafres. The first one shared a photo on Instagram with the artist with a message: “Good light trip, magician, dub genius. Thanks”.
The singer and guitarist of Los Pericos shared a photo of Lee “Scratch” Perry in his stories with the phrase: “Thank you for everything Señor Dub”. Something similar did Bonetto on his Instagram.
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Lee “Scratch” Perry, the reggae witch, died: he boosted Bob Marley, produced The Clash and lost all his treasure in a fire