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5 key facts about visionary reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry dies at 85

Lee “Scratch” Perry, the legendary producer of reggae and dub music, died at the age of 85, and we have compiled 5 facts about him in this article.

According to Jamaican media, Perry died in a hospital in Lucea, in the northwestern part of the country, on 29 August 2021.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made a series of Tweets to confirm the reggae icon’s passing and pay tribute to him. According to The Guardian, Lee Perry died of an illness, but nothing is said about its nature.

Before the fallout between them, Perry worked with Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Heptones, Junior Murvin, and many more, crafting some of their most well-known songs.

He went on to created his record label and formed a band called The Upsetters. Controversially, Scratch wrote songs that dissed his old mentors, and those tunes became hits in Jamaica.

In 1978, he claimed responsibility for burning down the Black Ark studio after covering nearly every available surface in scribbled black marker in a fit of rage.

Speaking with Rolling Stone, Perry said: “I needed to be forgiven of my sin. I created my sin, and I burned my sin, and I am born again.” He had built the Black Ark studio in his backyard and formed the Black Ark label from it.

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5 facts about Lee “Scratch” Perry

1. Born on 20 March 1936 in Kendal, Jamaica, to Ina Davis and Henry Perry, Lee’s full name was Rainford Hugh Perry. His father started as a labourer before gradually becoming a well known professional dancer, and his mother has Yoruba ancestry. She practised African traditions, which she passed on to her son.

2. Lee Scratch Perry was married three times. His first marriage was to a local woman named Ruby Williams in rural Jamaica in the early 60s. Then, he married Pauline Morrison before divorcing her in 1979. In 1991, he got married to Mireille Campbell-Ruegg, and they had two children together. In all, Perry has six children, with four of them coming from other relationships. The names of Lee Scratch Perry’s known children are:

  • Cleopatra Perry
  • Marsha Perry
  • Omar Perry
  • Marvin (Sean) Perry
Lee Scratch Perry and wife, Mireille Campbell-Ruegg
Lee Scratch Perry and wife, Mireille Campbell-Ruegg

3. He began his career in the late 1950s, working for Studio One: a record label founded by the producer Clement Dodd, whom he got into a fight with and left for Amalgamated Records – owned by Joe Gibbs. He also got into a fight with him, and he left again. In 1968, he started his label, called Upsetter Records.

4. Perry began releasing albums in 1969. His music became famous in Jamaica and the United Kingdom, and his first hit single was called “People Funny Boy”, where he mocked Joe Gibbs. In total, the reggae legend released about 80 albums and has gotten lots of recognition, including most of his songs appearing in the reggae radio station “The Blue Ark” in Grand Theft Auto V and several artists sampling his songs over several decades.

5. In 1973, he built Black Ark studio. He worked with many artists, such as Bob Marley, Max Romeo, Junior Byles, and others. He produced their songs, and he also recorded his own. After Black Ark studio burned down, he moved to the UK and US and continued making songs. He won a Reggae Grammy award in 2002 for the album “Jamaican ET”. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Perry number 100 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and he received Jamaica’s sixth highest honour, the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, in 2012. Additionally, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him a Gold Musgrave Medal in October 2013.

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