Reggae Icon + Dub Pioneer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry: Dead At 85

Reggae legend and Dub pioneer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry has died. He was 85 years old.

Born Rainford Hugh Perry, the Grammy Award-winning producer passed away at Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Jamaica, early this morning.

Andrew Holness, the country’s prime minister, confirmed the news and sent his “deep condolences” to his family, tweeting: “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. Perry was a pioneer in the 1970s’ development of dub music with his early adoption of studio effects to create new instrumentals of existing reggae tracks. He has worked with and produced for various artistes, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Congos, Adrian Sherwood, the Beastie Boys, and many others. Undoubtedly, Lee Scratch Perry will always be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music fraternity. May his soul Rest In Peace.”

From Bob Marley and the Wailers and Sir Paul McCartney to Moby and the Beastie Boys, Perry was known for his work with a wide selection of artists and the producer was among the first to use studio effects to rework reggae tracks.

Beginning his career in the late 1950s as a record seller for Clement Coxsone Dodd’s sound system, the duo fell out over financial issues, leading Perry to launch his own label, Upsetter Records, in 1968.  His first big hit was ‘People Funny Boy’, that took aim at Gibbs and sold 60,000+ copies in Jamaica alone. Later releases on the label included ‘Small Axe and Duppy Conqueror’ by the Wailers – late reggae icon Marley’s band.

in 2003, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album for his ‘Jamaican E.T.’ album and he reached a wider audience in 1998 when he made a vocal appearance on ‘Dr. Lee, PhD’ from the Beastie Boys’ ‘Hello Nasty’ LP..

The star, who also had a studio band named The Upsetters, released music right before his death and his very last song, ‘No Bloody Friends’, came out earlier this month.

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Author: Brad LeBeau