Lee “Scratch” Perry, the legendary reggae artist and producer, passed away earlier today at age 85 in the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Jamaica.
Born Rainford Hugh Perry, he was a pioneer, an innovator, and a fearless creator, always willing to break rules to create a sound unlike any other. The father of modern dub music and an early Bob Marley collaborator, the music of the islands wouldn’t be what it is today without his influence.
‘The Upsetter’ made his name in the music industry at an early age. Born in Kendal, Jamaica, in Hanover Parish, he later moved all over Jamaica, allowing music to influence him wherever he went. From his days dancing in Clarendon, to his professional start at Studio One in Kingston, life and beautiful sounds followed him all over.
His career really started taking off once he formed his own label, ‘Upsetter Records’ in 1968. There, his talents and prowess for innovation started to truly take shape. His first big single “People Funny Boy” sold 60 thousand copies in Jamaica alone, and more than anything, proved his talents as an early developer of sampling.
The history of reggae is impossible to write without frequently mentioning Lee “Scratch” Perry. From his eclectic styles on stage, to the sheer brilliance and creative energy he brought to the genre. His work at the ‘Black Ark’ studio, set up in his own backyard, changed the history of music for decades to come.
Collaborating and producing for artists such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Beastie Boys, and Paul McCartney, his resume is unmatched. The contributions he made to the music industry as a whole still linger today, with effects that he pioneered as a groundbreaking producer still used in modern instrumentals.
Artists like Travis Scott have found ways to introduce Perry’s talents into his tracks. From punk bands like the Clash, to house and electronic music galore, his influence is clear, and shall live on in the hearts and music of many.
Though he has passed, the impact he has had on how people listen to music from here on out is a legacy that is nothing less than momentous.
He is survived by wife Mireille and their two children, as well as four more children.
Sources: ROLLINGSTONE.COM, BET.COM, THEGUARDIAN.COM, BBC.COM