Lee “Scratch” Perry, the Jamaican dub legend, has died, the Jamaica Observer and The Guardian report. Perry was at Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Jamaica when he died today (August 29). A cause of death is not yet known. He was 85 years old. Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, posted a tribute to the legendary musician on Twitter after news of Perry’s death spread. “My heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and fans of legendary record producer and singer Rainford Hugh Perry OD, who is known affectionately as ‘Lee Scratch’ Perry.” Holness wrote.
Perry and his band The Upsetters helped spread the music of Jamaica around the world, produced records for groups like the Congos and Bob Marley & the Wailers, and influenced acts like the Clash and the Beastie Boys. Perry was born in Kendal, Jamaica in 1936. In the 1950s, Perry began working with Clement Coxsone Dodd, selling records and later working in Dodd’s recording studio, Studio One. With this experience he founded his own label Upsetter.
He released his innovative first single “People Funny Boy” through the label, which highlighted his distinctive production technique. His studio experimentation – which used to include sampling and remixing – helped create the dub genre, which he cemented into Black Ark Studios – a new space he built in his back yard. After a string of successful albums with his band The Upsetters and countless production credits, Perry’s music became accessible to new audiences in the 1980s when he worked with British producer Adrian Sherwood.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Perry told the Guardian, “Music is magic. When you have good music, you have good magic. If you have good magic, good people will follow you. “