Dub reggae visionary Lee Scratch Perry, RIP

Originally published at: Dub reggae visionary Lee Scratch Perry, RIP | Boing Boing


Well this is personally very sad. Lee Perry was a huge part of my road of musical discovery.


Very sad. His creativity massively influenced me when I was shaking off the shackles. A brilliant producer as well as a visionary.


I do believe he was referred as the Salvador Dali of music, by whom I do not recall, but that is an accurate description as any could be made of this Master of Sound. Truly a wonder, be well on your journey Good Sir.


None other than Keith Richards said that


Lee Perry was so wonderfully out there. His effect on modern music is enormous




As I mentioned in my post, it was Keith Richards who said that.



All respect to The Upsetter. So much of what I love in modern music can be traced back to this man. Beyond his own visionary productions, his technique and attitude have influenced countless others who came after.

I am truly saddened at his passing, but I know his spirit lives on in the music of all he inspired, myself included.


Forgive us–many of us are paying our respects.

As he leaned over the stage for light at the Maritime Hall one lucky soul said he’d never wash that hand again. I’m sure he meant figuratively.

So long, Bucky. Thanks for everything.


We’re shaking the roof off down here in the high desert! Slapped the Congo’s on, next up is Scratch, the Ganga is puffing and the thunder and lightning is nice mood noise for the shin dig. Blessed is the music maker and the hiney bird shakers!

Turn it up people!


Vibrate on, Scratch!


I was on a Caribbean cruise some many years ago and got turned on there to reggae. And I discovered that there was a whole world of Jamaican music, much of which never made it to the U.S., except in a very niche way, but it was really innovative and put out by some totally excellent musicians and producers, like Mr. Perry. Lee Perry started his own studio because he wanted to record his own music, but he was best known as a producer, arranger, and world-class dub artist. He really pioneered dub as an art form: re-mixing reggae vocal tracks with overdub and effects, and sometimes different or variant spoken vocals over them. He said in one interview “I gave reggae to Bob Marley, as a present.” What he meant was, he’d let Marley (for whom he was an early producer) and others carry on with reggae music, while he’d moved on from reggae music per se to doing his own improvisational dub thing, and he continued to do it for decades. His output is wide and varied and the early stuff not that easily available in one place, but for a good intro I recommend the Arkology box set.


Rest in Power, Rainford Hugh Lee “Scratch” Perry. He was sui generis, and also multam in parvo: the power of a creating Sun crammed into a small body.

He didn’t invent dub, but was one of its greatest shapers - he showed everyone how far and far out it can go.

I must say your song choices are superb, Pesco. /bows low, sweeps hat near floor Thank you for such thoughtful selections. ChuckV’s choice is also choice, as is 1000YearBan’s. Well done, you lot. Kiki’s suggestion of Arkology as a jumping off point into Scratch’s World is also spot on. It’s mostly killer with very little filler, and features his own as well as others’ vocal work.

Typing of vocal work, it’s sometimes eerie how much marley’s early vocals sound like Scratch.

And it’s disheartening whenever I meet people who say they adore reggae, then in the same breath declare, “I have all of bob’s marley’s records!” Such as these rarely listen to anyone else of the Jamaican persuasion, and I always do my best to encourage them to make some mento/ska/rock steady/reggae/dub explorations.

Ferinstance, following a sample, bass line, groove, riddim, or motif from one old Jamaican song through to all its incarnations on the same artiste’s and others’ tracks can be a real blast, and hip you to great new stuff.

Hunting for all the versions of a beloved Scratch song is also V rewarding - Leo Graham’s Black Candle is a classic. The Bad Lamp version is esp tasty. It features percussion I’d swear on a stack of good dictionaries is Scratch banging together soda bottles he’d slipped onto his fingers.

The Words of my Mouth, originally performed by Sangie Davis and The Gatherers

has a groove so heavy it could create a singularity. Jah be praised there are many versions of this one, too!

Smokey Room’s Upsetter Riddim Shower - Words (of My Mouth)

While his output can be uneven, and when it’s bad it’s reeeaallly bad, his great records more than stand the test of time, or simply laugh at time itself b/c they’re so ahead of their time. Some of his 90s stuff sounds like it could be released years decades from now.

I always brought plenty of Scratch albums and mix tapes when we visited JA, and frequently played them. Scratch accompanied us during parties, lunch and dinner, card parties, beach strolls, and long drives. Anyone standing near the road would grin and wave and holler when they heard it, surprised that mascots (Anglicé: tourists) could ever have such taste.

“I am the Word Professor. I am the word processor. I am the Green Monitor.”
“I am a musician, I am a magician.”
“The Magician perform his magic and disappear.”

Walk good, Mr Perry. Walk good.


He was also a painter

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This is, and always will be my favourite:


From the obituary on the BBC News site:

[Scratch was] “Shamanistic and reliably stoned”

I saw him once a few years ago. He was, well, he was Lee Scratch Perry, ain’t nobody else like that.


One of the younger guys who worked at a reggae label my old company distributed hated Lee Perry’s recordings-- “they sound so horrible, crappy muffled production.”

This is like saying Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ recordings are bad because there’s no clarity between the instruments.

Anyway, this kid loved modern reggae productions with their crisp electronic drums and keys. He can have 'em. The various Scratch-produced comps his label put out are still selling while his flash-in-the-pan new albums are in the discount bins.


He’s off to see that Great Super Ape in the Sky.