Tributes Pour in for Reggae, Dub Pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry

Tributes have been pouring in for the reggae and dub pioneer and producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, who died on Aug 29 at the age of 85 in a hospital in Lucea, Jamaica.

“The magical sounds created by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry The Upsetter will vibrate on thru the universe forever and ever and ever…” wrote Primal Scream on Instagram, while The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess wrote, “His adventure continues beyond this realm.”

The Beastie Boys who worked with Perry after he opened for them in 1996 while on tour in Japan, and later collaborated with him on their Hello Nasty album in 1998 on the track “Dr. Lee, PhD,” called the Jamaican artist a “pioneering spirit.”

“We are truly grateful to have been inspired by and collaborated with this true legend,” wrote the group on Twitter.

Dub producer Mad Professor, a longtime collaborator of Perry’s, also took to Facebook to remember his friend.

“The end of an era! We first worked in the early eighties, recording several tracks and doing [several] tours, having many laughs, sharing many dreams… we spoke together with his wife a week ago… What a character! Totally ageless! Extremely creative, with a memory as sharp as a tape machine! A brain as accurate as a computer! We travelled the world together… Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, All over the USA and Canada… and many more places. Never a dull moment! All the Bob Marley stories… all the Coxone Dodd stories!! And many more…”

Listening to Perry’s 1970 record, The Upsetters Again, producer Youth (Martin Glover) paid tribute to the mighty “Upsetter,” saying: “Lee Scratch Perry aka “Pipecock Jackson”…”The Upsetter” has ascended to the stars. Prime mover inspirational genius, end of an era. Seer, shamen and prophet …we will never see the like again… a true original …Fly High”

Steven Ellison (aka Flying Lotus), wrote “Blessed journey into the infinite. RIP Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry,’” while rapper Lupe Fiasco remembered Perry saying, “African blood is flowing through I veins so I and I shall never fade away.”

“Few more important figures in the music of the 20th century,” said The Mountain Goats on Twitter. “He expanded the vocabulary of studio sound; lived a long life and leaves a lasting legacy. Play his music for your kids, see how instantly they love it. It’s universal. Safe travels home to God.”

Posting a link to Perry’s single “Such is Life,” which he recently re-released as part of Black Art from the Black Ark in 2021, a collection of rare studio sessions to come straight out of Perry’s legendary Black Ark studio, Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe wrote, “Rest in Power Lee Scratch Perry.”

Producer Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, PJ Harvey) said, “I tire of the trope that genius rides shotgun with madness, but few people were as weird or cast as long a shadow as Lee Perry. His records were shocking and became talismans for anybody who ever tried to manifest the sound in their head. Requiescat.”

More tributes came in from Living Colour, Jenny Lewis, and many others, upon hearing the news of Perry’s passing.

Read Perry’s full interview with American Songwriter in 2020 here.

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