He was the one who blew up Bob Marley. Lee « Scratch » Perry died Sunday at age 85, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said.
“Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry died this morning while in Noel Holmes Hospital. He was 85 years old ”, announced the Prime Minister in a press release posted on his Twitter account.
“Sorcerer of reggae”, “Salvador Dali du dub” (extension of reggae based on echoes), « The Upsetter » (“The pain in the ass”): nicknames abound for this elusive and prominent figure in the history of music who has notably worked with the Beastie Boys.
It was Perry who pushed Marley to the top. “Without him, Bob Marley might have remained an orphan arrow in his bow”, wrote Francis Dordor, producer specialist, in Les Inrockuptibles. He was one of the first to create loops, to use samples inspired by any outside sound, to layer multiple voices and layers of sound.
At the head of his own studio
Born in 1936 in Kendal, Jamaica, Rainford Hugh « Lee » Perry had left school at age 15 before moving to Kingston in the 1960s. “My father worked in the streets, my mother in the fields. We were very poor ”, he told British rock magazine New Musicalm Express (NME) in 1984. “I didn’t learn anything at school. I learned everything on the street. “
He had founded his own studio in Kingston, The Black Ark, where he produced a number of 1970s hits such as War Ina Babylon by Max Romeo, Party Time, de the Heptones ou Heart of the Congos of the Congos which allowed Jamaican music to gain a worldwide reputation.
After a detour through the United Kingdom, where he was particularly well known, he settled in Switzerland with his family. He remained prolific until the end of his life. In 2019, at 83, he released his own album, Heavy Rain, co-produced with the English producer Adrian Sherwood, creator of the On-U Sound label, one of his admirers.