Lee Scratch Perry in 2018
Image: Paul Bergen/Redferns

Lee “Scratch” Perry, Reggae and Dub Legend, Dead at 85

Tributes have poured in for Jamaican reggae and dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry after the producer and singer born Rainford Hugh Perry’s death at the age of 85 was confirmed earlier today. A cause of death has not yet been given.

The news was reported by the Jamaica Observer, who wrote that Perry died at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Western Jamaica following a period of illness.  The news was confirmed by Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who called Perry a “pioneer in the 1970s development of dub music” and said Perry will “undoubtedly” be remembered “for his sterling contribution to the music fraternity.”

Perry was born in rural Jamaica in 1936. His music career began in the late 1950s, working as a record seller with Clement Coxsone Dodd and working at Dodd’s Studio One. He later joined Joe Gibbs’ label Amalgamated Records before founding his own, Upsetter Records, in 1968. Throughout the 70s, Perry worked primarily out of his own studio, the Black Ark, before it fell into disrepair and was burned to the ground in 1978.

Over his decades-long career, Perry was instrumental in spreading the music of Jamaica across the globe, working with and producing music for a wide slew of artists that included Bob Marley, The Clash, Beastie Boys, Junior Murvin, The Orb and many more. He pioneered the “dub” technique, utilising remixing and studio effects to create new versions of existing songs.

Tributes from the music world have flowed since news of Perry’s death was announced, from the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Flying Lotus, Kaytranada, Run the Jewels‘ El-P, TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek, the Mountain Goats‘ John Darnielle and more.


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