Lee Scratch Perry Biography – Lee Scratch Perry Wiki
Lee “Scratch” Perry (born Rainford Hugh Perry) was a Jamaican record producer and singer. Perry, along with his band the Upsetters, helped spread Jamaican music around the world, producing records by groups like the Congos and Bob Marley & The Wailers, and serving as an influence on acts including the Clash and the Beastie Boys.
Born in rural Jamaica in 1936, Rainford Hugh “Lee” Perry moved to Kingston in the early Sixties. “My father worked on the road, my mother in the fields. We were very poor. I went to school… I learned nothing at all. Everything I have learned has come from nature,” he told NME in 1984. “When I left school there was nothing to do except field work. Hard, hard labor. I didn’t fancy that. So I started playing dominoes. Through dominoes I practiced my mind and learned to read the minds of others. This has proved eternally useful to me.”
His career in music began in the late Fifties when he was employed to sell records for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s Downbeat Sound System; by the early Sixties, Dodd opened his famed Studio One, where Perry — nicknamed “Little” at the time, due to his 4’11″ stature — got his first experience in the recording studio, producing a few dozens song for the label.
After falling out with Dodd, Perry jumped over to Joe Gibbs’ rival label Amalgamated Records, where Perry continued to produce in addition to furthering his own recording career as lead artist. Disagreements between him and Gibbs resulted in “Scratch” finally forming his own label Upsetter Records — a nod to Perry’s proclamation “I am the Upsetter” — in 1968.
Thanks to his popularity in Jamaica and the U.K. — where his 1968 single “People Funny Boy,” a slam at Gibbs, became a Top Five hit — in 1973, Perry was able to build his own backyard studio in Kingston, which he named “the Black Ark.”
With his seasoned backing band the Upsetters, Perry shepherded dub masterpieces like 1973’s Blackboard Jungle, the Upsetters’ landmark 1976 LP Super Ape and Perry’s own Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread.
Perry and his backing band commercially weaponized the dub sound as producer on numerous acclaimed mid-Seventies reggae records — Max Romeo’s War Ina Babylon, the Heptones’ Party Time, the Congos’ Heart of the Congos and Junior Murvin’s Police & Thieves — that helped establish Jamaican music as an international art form and powerhouse.
Following the release of the Upsetters’ Return of the Super Ape in 1978 — and after artists like Paul and Linda McCartney (“Mister Sandman“) sought out Perry at his home studio — the Black Ark era began its slow erosion when Perry suffered a mental breakdown. The property fell into disrepair as a paranoid Perry lessened his musical output and scrawled all over the studio’s surfaces with a marker; Perry, according to legend, ultimately burned down the studio in 1983, according to RollingStone.
Following the Black Ark era, Perry moved to England and the U.S. before ultimately residing in Switzerland with his family. He would remain prolific for the next three decades, releasing new albums on his own at a yearly pace, working with longtime fans like the Beastie Boys (Hello Nasty‘s “Dr. Lee PhD“) as well as frequent collaborations with Mad Professor, the Orb and Adrian Sherwood. In 2019, Perry released his twin LPs Rainford (his birth name) and Heavy Rain, the latter featuring guests like Brian Eno, who once hailed Perry as “one of the geniuses of recorded music.”
Lee Scratch Perry Age
Rainford Hugh Perry was born on 20 March 1936 in Kendal, Jamaica. He died on 29 August 2021, in Lucea, Jamaica. He was 85 years old.
Lee Scratch Perry Wife Mireille
Who is Lee Scratch Perry married to? Lee Scratch Perry was married to his wife Mireille Perry at the time of his death. Perry resided in Switzerland with his wife Mireille and their two children.
Perry was married twice, first to his first wife Paulette Perry, from whom he divorced in 1979, and then to his second wife Mireille Ruegg Perry, whom he met in 1989. He later moved to Switzerland to live with Ruegg, with whom he had two children.
Lee Scratch Perry Children
Perry had six children. He had two children with his wife Mireille and four other children by the names of Cleopatra Perry, Marsha Perry, Omar Perry and Marvin (Sean) Perry. His son Sean Perry said of his father in People Funny Boy, “Mr. Perry is an enigma, but trust me, he is ahead of his time; it’s we who have to try to catch him up.”
Lee Scratch Perry Family
Lee Scratch Perry was the third child of Ina Davis and Henry Perry. His mother had strong African traditions originating from her Yoruba ancestry that she passed on to her son. His parents were both laborers, but his father later became a professional dancer.
Lee Scratch Perry Death
Andrew Holness, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, tweeted: “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 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.”
Mike D, a member of the iconic Beastie Boys, wrote in an Instagram post: “We send the most love and respect we can to Lee Perry who passed today, to his family and loved ones and the many he influenced with his pioneering spirit and work. We are truly grateful to have been inspired by, worked with and collaborated with this true legend. Let us all listen to his deep catalog in tribute.”
Lee Scratch Perry Cause of Death
Lee Scratch Perry’s cause of death was not revealed.
Lee Scratch Perry Net Worth
What is Lee “Scratch” Perry’s net worth? Lee “Scratch” Perry’s net worth is estimated to be $3million.