Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, reggae guru and Bob Marley producer, dies at 85

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, reggae guru and Bob Marley producer, dies at 85

Lee Scratch Perry, singer and reggae producer, producer and innovator of Jamaican music, died this Sunday at Noel Holmes Hospital (Lucea, Jamaica) at the age of 85. Creator of the cadence with which reggae spread around the world since the 60s of the last century, promoter of new styles such as dub, drum & bass, jungle, hip-hop and British punk and producer of Bob Marley, Perry is considered to be the great architect of the miscegenation of countercultural popular music.

The news, advanced by the newspaper Jamaica Observer, has had a great impact on the Caribbean island. The country’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, conveyed his condolences to family, friends and the entire Jamaican people. “Read Scratch Perry has worked and produced for various artists, including Bob Marley and The Wailers, The Congos, Adrian Sherwood, The Beastie Boys, and many others. Without a doubt, he will always be remembered for his excellent contribution to the musical fraternity. May his soul rest in peace, “he said through social networks.

Active for seven decades, Perry was admired by artists of various genres. “He is the Salvador Dalí of music. The world is his instrument. More than a producer, he knows how to inspire the artist’s soul. Scratch is a shaman,” Keith Richards said of him in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2010. “It was the Lee Perry sound that inspired us to start hip-hop,” said Afrika Bambaataa.

Born in rural Jamaica in 1936, Perry moved to Kingston in the early 1960s. “My father worked on the road, my mother in the fields. We were very poor. I went to school … learned nothing at all Everything I have learned has come from nature “, he explained in 1984.

His musical career began in the late 1950s in the strangest way, when he was hired to sell records in a Clement store. Coxsone Dodd. When Dodd opened his famous Studio One, Perry began composing his own songs, although due to the producer’s distrust he went to Joe Gibbs’ rival label, Amalgamated Records.

With Gibbs he recorded his first big hit, “People Funny Boy”, but commercial disagreements led him to create his own label, Upsetter Records. It was then that his innovations in mixing led him to be recognized and sought after as a creator of new sounds and a renewer of reggae.


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Producer of numerous acclaimed reggae records during the 1970s, groups like The Clash turned to Perry to create their sound. So did Paul and Linda McCartney to Mister Sandman.

Irascible and unstable and a habitual user of LSD, Perry suffered paranoid episodes such as the one that led him to burn down his study in 1983 when he believed that he was possessed by the devil. “I created my sin, I burned my sin and I was born again”, justified the event.

After a tour of the United Kingdom, the United States and Switzerland, his last three decades of activity were dedicated to releasing an annual album with bands and musicians such as The Beastie Boys, Mad Professor, Adrian Sherwood or Brian Eno.

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Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, reggae guru and Bob Marley producer, dies at 85