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Lee "Scratch" Perry Has Died, Aged 85
Christian Eede , August 30th, 2021 14:20

The dub and reggae pioneer died in hospital in Jamaica on the morning of August 29

Lee "Scratch" Perry has died.

Aged 85, Perry passed away in the Noel Holmes Hospital, Lucea, on Sunday morning (August 29). The cause of death is not yet known, but his passing was confirmed on Twitter by Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who offered his "deep condolences" to Perry's family and praised his "unforgettable" and "sterling contribution" to music.

A number of figures from across the music world have also paid tribute to Perry. Kevin Martin, AKA The Bug, tweeted: "In these times when the term genius is massively overused, today the world lost a real one, with the departure of Lee Perry (Rest in Peace). I was lucky enough to interview him once, and every sentence he output had at least three levels of meaning. A master, a huge influence."

Beastie Boys' Mike D, with whom Perry worked during his career, wrote: "We send the most love and respect we can to Lee Perry who passed today, to his family and loved ones and the many he influenced with his pioneering spirit and work. We are truly grateful to have been inspired by and collaborated with this true legend."

Perry was born in Kendal, Jamaica in 1936 and moved to the capital, Kingston, in the early 1960s. His music career began in the 1950s when he was hired by Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, head of reggae studio and label Studio One, as an assistant. From there, he took on a role as a talent scout and began to DJ, eventually getting his break as a recording artist and producer with Studio One where he earned his "Scratch" nickname from an early recording of his, 'The Chicken Scratch', in 1965. He left Studio One in the mid-'60s after a falling out with Dodd.

After that, Perry joined Joe Gibbs' rival label Amalgamated Records, and continued to record his own music and productions for others. Disagreements between Perry and Gibbs eventually ended with the former leaving the label and founding his own imprint, Upsetter Records, in 1968.

In the decades that followed, Perry worked with a number of legendary figures from across the music world, including Bob Marley, The Clash and the Beastie Boys. He produced more than 1,000 recordings over the course of his career, and his last major record, Heavy Rain, was released in 2019.