The Beastie Boys and Billy Bragg have led tributes following the death of revered record producer and singer Lee “Scratch” Perry aged 85.
Local media reported Perry died in hospital in Lucea, northern Jamaica, with the country’s prime minister Andrew Holness tweeting his “deep condolences” to the family and friends of the man born Rainford Hugh Perry.
The Beastie Boys, who first worked with Perry when he opened for them in Japan in 1996 before they joined forces on the track Dr Lee PhD as party of 1998’s Hello Nasty album, hailed the musician’s “pioneering spirit”.
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 and collaborated with this true legend.– Mike pic.twitter.com/cmdcnI6hHT
— Beastie Boys (@beastieboys) August 29, 2021
“We are truly grateful to have been inspired by and collaborated with this true legend,” the group said in a tweet, which featured a photograph of a smoking Perry alongside them in the studio, signed by rapper Mike D.
Folk singer Bragg called the Jamaican “The Great Upsetter”, while politician Mr Holness noted 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”.
It says something about who he was – and who we are as a result – that the death of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was the third of only three items on the @BBCRadio4 news bulletin at 7pm, after Afghanistan and Hurricane Ida. RIP The Great Upsetter
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) August 29, 2021
British label Trojan Records worked with Perry on an instrumental version of Fats Domino’s Sick And Tired in 1969 that peaked at number five on the British charts, further growing reggae in the UK and giving the musician the financial freedom to open the Upsetter Record shop in downtown Kingston.
The label said the passing of the “mighty Upsetter” was “dreadfully sad news”, while The Orb’s Alex Paterson tweeted: “The disco devil has left Babylon, Lee will be forever in my heart”.
Rest in peace our good friend Lee "Scratch" Perry. He was the heart of our album "The Orbserver In The Star House".
"The upsetter the dub original specialist & chemist of the most high . The disco devil has left Babylon , lee will be forever in my heart 💜 " – Alex Paterson pic.twitter.com/DS9OF1tRDt
— The Orb (@Orbinfo) August 29, 2021
Electronic group The Prodigy shared a photo of Perry at a mixing desk with the caption: “total rebel, pioneer and inspiration. May ur bass shake systems and souls forever.”
“RIP to the King”, wrote British rapper Ghostpoet, while Lupe Fiasco quoted lyrics from Perry’s group The Upsetters’ song Zion’s Blood: “African blood is flowing through I veins so I and I shall never fade away.”
AFRICAN BLOOD IS FLOWING THROUGH I VEINS SO I AND I SHALL NEVER FADE AWAY!!!!
LEE SCRATCH PERRY 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/Mv1xZyyRjp
— TAPE TAPE & HOUSE EP NOW PLAYING (@LupeFiasco) August 29, 2021
Perry’s fellow record producer Steve Albini said “few people were as weird or cast as long a shadow as Lee Perry.
Albini added on Twitter: “His records were shocking and became talismans for anybody who ever tried to manifest the sound in their head.”
Brainfeeder label-boss Flying Lotus wished Perry a “blessed journey into the infinite”, and band The Mountain Goats tweeted there were “few more important figures in the music of the 20th century”.
“He expanded the vocabulary of studio sound; lived a long life & leaves a lasting legacy. play his music for your kids, see how instantly they love it. it’s universal.”
Perry, who collaborated with Paul McCartney and Bob Marley, was married twice and had six children.