Lee “Scratch” Perry, who was heralded as a legendary reggae singer and producer, has died at the age of 85 at a hospital in Lucea, Jamaica. The cause of his passing is unknown at the moment, but his death concludes as life that was influential in more ways than one.
His talents were recognized by many across the world. For example, in 2003 Perry won a Grammy and BET Award for Best Reggae Album with his project, Jamaican E.T.. The Rolling Stones guitarist Kevin Richards had high praise for Perry as well. “You could never put your finger on Lee Perry – he’s the Salvador Dali of music,” he said back in 2010.
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
He added, “He’s a mystery. The world is his instrument. You just have to listen. More than a producer, he knows how to inspire the artist’s soul. Like Phil Spector, he has a gift of not only hearing sounds that come from nowhere else, but also translating those sounds to the musicians. Scratch is a shaman.”
Lee would collaborate with names like Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Beastie Boys, and Paul McCartney in his career while artists such as Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Jay Z, and Busta Rhymes sampled the late reggae act’s work for songs of their own.
The news about Perry’s death was confirmed by Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness, who shared a statement about it on Twitter.
“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,” he wrote. “Perry was a pioneer in the 1970s’ development of dub music with his early adoption of studio effects to create new instrumentals of existing reggae tracks. He has worked with and produced for various artistes, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Congos, Adrian Sherwood, the Beastie Boys, and many others. Undoubtedly, Lee Scratch Perry will always be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music fraternity. May his soul Rest In Peace.”