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Lee Scratch Perry

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Lee "Scratch" Perry (born March 20, 1936) is one of the most influential people in the development of reggae music in Jamaica.

Perry began his career in the late 1950s working with Prince Buster[?] and Coxsone Dodd's sound system. He was soon producing records with Dodd, and recording at Studio One[?], but the pair soon stopped working together due to personality conficts. Working with Joe Gibbs[?] at Wirl Records[?], Perry tried to begin his recording career but, again, personality problems caused conflict and Perry left to form his own label, Upsetter[?], in 1968 (see 1968 in music). His first single was "People Funny Boy", which was an insult directed at Gibbs and sold very well; the single is notable for its innovative use of a slow, sluggish, bass-driven beat that would soon become identifiable as a distinctively "reggae" (or, more accurately, roots reggae) sound. During the 1970s, Perry released numerous recordings under a variety of names including Scratch, Pipecock Jakxon, The Upsetter, Super Ape and Jah Lion. Most of his hits were big in both Jamaica and the UK, and he soon became known as much for his outlandish style and fashion sense as for his music.

In the early 1970s, Perry became interested in dub, and formed a studio, Black Ark[?], to experiment in the style, as well as produce tracks from notable musicians like Bob Marley & the Wailers. Even after producing such seminal singles as "Small Axe", Perry sold the tapes to Trojan Records[?] without telling Marley, Tosh or Bunny[?]. After Marley & the Wailers signed to Island Records, Perry began accusing Chris Blackwell[?] (head of Island Records) of cultural imperialism and psychic vampirism, as well as calling Marley an accomplice and a sell-out to his race. In spite of his social and mental problems, Perry continued working with varied musicians, including the Clash. Drug problems, however, exacerbated his mental instability. In spite of a public stance against all drug use except cannabis, an integral part of the Rastafarian religion, public stories surfaced regarding constant use of LSD, cocaine and even tape head-cleaning fluid. Perhaps as a result of drug-induced psychosis, Black Ark burned to the ground. Further evidence of Perry's mental instability was provided when On U records[?] producer Adrian Sherwood[?] had to evict him from his home after he buried Sherwood's new television set in his back garden.

Since leaving Jamaica soon after the destruction of Black Ark, Perry has lived in Switzerland and continued recording with great success, though his production work has slowed down significantly. Lee has colaborated and toured with Mad Professor[?] since the mid 1980s.

In 2003 Scratch won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album with the album Jamaican ET.

Compact Disc Discography

  • Heart of the Dragon (1975)
  • Time Boom X - De Devil Dead (with Dub Syndicate) (1987)
  • Mystic Warrior (with Mad Professor) (1989)
  • Mystic Warrior Dub (with Mad Professor) (1989)
  • From My Secret Laboratory (1990)
  • Experryments at the Grass Roots of Dub (1995)
  • Dub In Fire (1998)
  • Black Ark In Dub (2002)
  • Encore (2003)
  • Super Ape Inna Jungle (2003)

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