This Sunday, August 29, without a doubt, is a pretty sad day for music. And it is that this morning Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, singer, producer, and icon of Jamaican music, died at the age of 85 in a hospital in Jamaica, where the musician ‘fought against a disease’ recently.
It was the local Jamaican Observer who made known the death of Perry. According to the newspaper, the also Grammy winner died at the Noel Holmes Hospital, located west of his native Jamaica, where he returned in early 2021 after living for many years in Switzerland. So far the causes of his death are unknown.
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s legacy is known in Jamaica and around the world. The news was later confirmed by Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica who used his Twitter account to offer condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Rainford Hugh Perry OD, “Without a doubt, Lee Scratch Perry will always be remembered for his excellent contribution to the musical fraternity. May his soul rest in peace.”
Lee Perry is considered one of the most important musicians and producers in the history of 20th-century music, as his skills not only led him to be a benchmark of reggae music, but he was also a kind of architect of the dub genre, which he began marketing in the mid-1970s with his backing band The Upsetters.
The producer had a difficult start in the field of music
Lee Perry’s life was not easy, since from a young age he faced extreme poverty and family problems, two factors that led him to get multiple jobs in order to survive. Ironically, it was in one of them (as the staff of a construction company) where his interest in vibrations in objects led him to become a renowned producer.
In the late 1950s, Scratch began working in several of the most important recording studios of the day. One of them was Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s ‘Studio One’ , where Lee Perry came to have the role of producer, writer, and arranger on various songs for the label. Unfortunately, he was never recognized for his creations.
But it became the forerunner in the use of ‘sampling’
The Studio One problem led Perry to apply for a job at Amalgamated Records, the rival record label owned by Joe Gibbs. That name is important because while Gibss allowed Lee Perry to produce songs and further his professional career at the same time, in the end, their creative disagreements weighed more.
This situation led Scratch to record “People Funny Boy”, a song that not only attracted attention for being a piece with insults dedicated to Joe Gibbs but was later considered one of the first pieces that would give way to the reggae genre and to the use of samples in music, as Lee Perry used the sound of a crying baby for this song.
During his musical career, one in which he began working as a quartermaster for renowned music studios, Lee Scratch Perry worked with artists such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Mad Professor, The Orb, Beastie Boys, The Congos, and Adrian Sherwood, just to mention some of them