According to Consequence, Jamaican music producer and singer Lee “Scratch” Perry has died at the age of 85. The Prime Minister of Jamaica broke the news via Twitter on August 29. Perry’s cause of death has yet to be revealed.
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. pic.twitter.com/Eec2MEd6yC
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) August 29, 2021
Perry was born in March 1933. His parents were both laborers with his father eventually becoming a professional dancer. The producer’s music career began when he was a teenager in the late 1950s. He worked for Jamaican music producers Clement Coxsone Dodd and Joe Gibbs.
After a dispute with Gibbs, Perry formed his own record label in 1968, Upsetter Records. Through the label, he released his breakthrough single titled “People Funny Boy.” Five years later, he created his own personal studio called the Black Ark where he produced and worked on music for Bob Marley and the Wailers, Junior Byles and Max Romeo. In 1978, the studio was burned down. Therefore, Perry opted to work in the U.S. and England.
Perry would be featured on the Beastie Boys track, “Dr. Lee, PhD,” off of their fifth studio album, Hello Nasty. He would later go on to win a Grammy for Best Reggae Album for his album, Jamaican E.T., at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards. He would later go on to work with Animal Collective, Larry McDonald and George Clinton. He even made an appearance during the 2013 edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA.
Grammy-winning dub music producer Lee “Scratch” Perry was a pioneer in the reggae music scene through his innovative production style. He is survived by his wife and his six children.
Photo credit: Marv Watson