Lee “Scratch” Perry Dies: Bob Marley Mentor and Reggae Innovator, was 85

Legendary producer, singer, and musician Lee “Scratch” Perry passed away today in a hospital in Jamaica. No cause of death was disclosed for the 85-year-old man.

Known for his studio prowess and production work with artists like the Congos, Adrian Sherwood, the Beastie Boys, Bob Marley and the Wailers, and many more, Perry was a prodigious force in music.

Dub, a late 1960s-era reggae subgenre, is attributed to him as its originator.

He received the Order of Distinction after being given the name Rainford Hugh Perry. That prompted Andrew Holness, the prime minister of Jamaica, to make a statement following his passing.

In 1936, at the height of the labour agitation against the British colonial government, Rainford Hugh Perry was born. Perry would grow to be a global expert on music despite having dropped out of school as a young child. (His catchy moniker comes from the 1965 song “Chicken Scratch.”) In Kingston, outside his family’s home, Perry worked with Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Heptones, Junior Murvin, and many others to create some of their most well-known songs at the legendary Black Ark studio. However, Perry had disagreements with almost as many people as he helped to make famous.

Johnson adds that Perry allegedly secretly sold the Wailers’ tapes to another label while keeping the proceeds. In his collaborations with the Clash, Paul McCartney, and the Beastie Boys, Perry transformed his sonic innovations into rock and rap, becoming renowned for both his otherworldly attire and esoteric spiritual practises as well as his somewhat dubious ethics. Rikshaw, a Chicago-area DJ, claimed that more than anything, Perry contributed to the synthesis of some of the most essential musical elements that many of us listen to today. He said in that 2006 NPR piece, “He was experimenting with things that people continue to this day are inspired by. He was creating remixes with these 12-inch dub plays and disco mixes that would combine various tracks and rhythms before the term “remix” had even become widely used.

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