Grammy Award-winning Jamaican music pioneer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is dead.
He reportedly died on Sunday morning (August 29) at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Western Jamaica after battling illness. Born Rainford Hugh Perry in March 1936, he was 85 years old.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed his passing.
“My deep condolences to the family, friends, and fans of legendary record producer and singer, Rainford Hugh Perry OD, affectionately known as “Lee Scratch” Perry,” Holness wrote in one Tweet this morning. “Undoubtedly, Lee Scratch Perry will always be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music fraternity. May his soul Rest In Peace.”
My deep condolences to the family, friends, and fans of legendary record producer and singer, Rainford Hugh Perry OD, affectionately known as “Lee Scratch” Perry. pic.twitter.com/Eec2MEd6yC
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) August 29, 2021
In December 2020, the Upsetta had announced that he would be returning to Jamaica to, among other things, establish an off-the-grid community, to enable him to get away from what he described as “this Babylon Madness” in Switzerland, where he lived for several years. He made his return to the island in January 2021, and revealed that he needed Jamaica’s sunshine, that Switzerland was now “too cold” and that the “energy was not right”.
The Grammy awardee who is regarded as one of the most important creative, artistic and musical figures of the second half of the 1900s, is revered across Europe, where he was constantly booked for tours.
The Black ark Studio owner, who was a huge fan of Alkaline and Vybz Kartel, produced more than 1000 recordings during his career. These include some of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ best early recordings such as the Soul Rebel and Soul Revolution albums as well as the Small Axe, Duppy Conqueror, Jah Live, Punky Reggae Party, and Rastaman Live Up singles.
He worked with and produced for a wide variety of other artists including Junior Murvin, the Congos, Max Romeo, the Beastie Boys and the Orb.
The Kendal, Hanover native also pioneered beat-making strategies including recording garden implements for beats. He would also bury microphones under trees to get different sounds and blow ganja smoke over tapes and even run the tapes backwards.
In December 2019, he released his Heavy Rain album, a 12-track compilation that debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Albums Charts. The compilation was his first number one album in his 60-year career, and also made him a record-holder as the oldest artist to top the charts.
The I Am A Mad Man also artist won a Reggae Grammy award in 2002 for the album, Jamaican E.T., and was nominated on four other occasions; in 2014 for Back on the Controls; Revelation in 2010; Repentance in 2008 and The End Of An American Dream in 2007.
He has been sought after by several fashion brands to model their garb in his golden years, among them, Italian fashion house, Gucci for whom he repped last year. In May 2019, he also featured as a model on Adidas Originals’ DON’T ASSUME campaign, and in 2010, collaborated with Supreme on two t-Shirt designs that featured his written word and his original artwork.
He was also the recipient of a Jamaican national honour, the Order of Distinction at the rank of Officer.