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Lee 'Scratch' Perry dies, aged 85

Lee Scratch Perry
(Image credit: Maria Jefferis / Getty)

Lee “Scratch” Perry, the massively influential and pioneering reggae and dub producer and artist, has died aged 85, confirmed the Jamaica Observer this afternoon. 

Perry died at Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Jamaica and no cause of death has been confirmed. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness led the tributes, posting, “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.” 

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Perry was born in Kendal, Jamaica in 1936, and pioneered the sound that would become known as reggae in the 1960s. In 1968 he founded his influential record label, Upsetter Records and scored an instant hit with his first single release, "People Funny Boy", an intentional insult aimed at a recently estranged business partner.

In the ‘70s, Perry built his now-legendary studio The Black Ark, bending reggae into mind-bending new dub shapes, and pioneering techniques like sampling and the art of remixing.

During his long career he worked with and produced artists including Bob Marley and the Wailers, Adrian Sherwood, Beastie Boys, Ari Up, The Clash, The Orb, and many others.