A Tribute to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

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On Sunday, August 29, at the age of 85, famed Jamaican producer and artist Lee “Scratch” Perry passed away. Over the years, several High Times writers have caught up with the mysterious musician, providing a glimpse into his life. Perry adopted many nicknames over the course of his career: the “Upsetter,” the “Super-Ape,” “Inspector Gadget,” “Pipecock Jackson” and the “Firmament Computer.” But he was mostly called “Scratch” from one of his early songs, “Chicken Scratch.” He loved and experimented with just about every new genre of music, and is credited with inventing dub. Perry produced the best work to ever come out of Jamaica. He produced The Wailers’ albums Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution—the first time non-Jamaicans heard Bob Marley sing, also producing some of Jamaica’s most iconic artists. Bob’s son Ziggy Marley provided a statement that was widely shared on various platforms. “It was always a unique experience being around him,” Marley told Rolling Stone. “He opened minds with his creativity and his personality. Some people thought it was madness, but I recognized it was genius, uniqueness, courage and freedom. He made no apology for being himself and you had to accept that and figure out the deeper meanings to his words and character.” Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Legacy Perry built his name working various jobs at Coxsone Dodd’s famed Studio One in Kingston, Jamaica. The sounds of Jamaica were constantly evolving from ska to rocksteady and reggae. Perry created the studio band the Upsetters in 1968. In 1973, Perry built his own Black Ark recording studio in his backyard. There, Perry produced for Jamaica’s best artists including Junior Byles, Junior Murvin, the Heptones, the Congos and Bob Marley. “Scratch was a massive personality, he was a creator, a pioneer, a wizard, a shaman, a magician, a philosopher, a musical…

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