Jamaican Reggae Pioneer, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Dies at 85

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Legendary Jamaican musician Lee “Scratch” Perry has died at the age of 85.

Perry died in hospital in Lucea, in the north-western parish of Hanover.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness called him “unforgettable” and praised his “sterling contribution” to music.

“Undoubtedly, today Jamaica has lost the rhythm and soul of a prolific music icon who has inspired many. Lee “Scratch” Perry was truly one of the most important and creative figures to have come out of Jamaica,” Holness’ statement reads.

Perry rose to international prominence after opening with The Beastie Boysin Japan in 1996. They collaborated on the track “Dr Lee, PhD” as part of 1998’s “Hello Nasty album.”

Perry was born in Kendal, Hanover, in 1936 and moved to the capital Kingston in the early 1960s.

“My father worked on the road, my mother in the fields. We were very poor. I went to school… I learned nothing at all. Everything I have learned has come from nature,” he told NME in 1984.

Perry formed his own label, Upsetter Records, in 1968.

Some of Perry’s most notable works are with Bob Marley and The Wailers union, producing two classic reggae albums, “Rasta Revolution” and “African Herbsman.”

“The Wailers had worked with Coxson at Studio One but it had networked out. The group had split up and Bob had gone to America with Danny Simms to do the Johnny Nash thing. But Nash didn’t want to promote Bob, just to pick his mind. When he came back to Jamaica he asked me to work with him,’ he told the publication. “I liked him as a person and so I said OK. To be honest, everytime we recorded together it was something magical, almost too powerful, too strong.”

However, the friendship eventually turned sour.

“He just sat there in the studio while we played our music, and then he screwed us,” Bunny Wailer claimed. “We never saw a dime from those albums we did with him … Lee Perry’s ignorance cost us a lot of money, and I never forgave him.”

Perry accused Marley and Island Records and snatching away members of his band.

All parties went on to enjoy successful careers.

Over the next seven decades, Perry would go on to work with some of the biggest names in music, including The Clash and The Orb.

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