We overstate the impact of a lot of musical legends. But then there’s Lee “Scratch” Perry, and overstatement is a challenge.
Few people have shaped music quite like Lee “Scratch” Perry, but then few people could make the impact on other people in the same room as the Jamaican vocal and production legend.
“The Upsetter,” indeed. Dub effects, delay feedback, remixes, studio effects, signal processing… Perry’s work is a reminder that our machines can be vessels for radical expression, imaginative revolution, and disruptive power.
Who else could say “I gave Bob Marley reggae as a present” but also count The Orb as a follower?
I’m even stunned by how many photos from friends are smiling Perry selfies – partly an indication of the man’s warmth and energy and openness.
There are lots of great interviews; the convo with Frances Morgan at Loop 2016 is special to me just as I got to be in the audience.
There’s not much to add as The Upsetter is surely taking over everyone’s Twitter feeds and music journalism print columns and everything else, but let’s round up a few of the important remembrances. And then, we had all better get back to work, and shaping future producers, too, because music innovation shouldn’t end with these remembrances. Keep upsetting. If you ever listened to Perry speak or heard his music, you must have felt that urge as powerfully as one can.
I mean, sure, you can talk about famous artist X influencing famous artist Y, but then there’s… Lee Scratch Perry writing the Tokyo Minister of Justice to defend Sir Paul’s weed stash – it’s “innovative” really from the return address:
(of course, this also is the figure who inspired headlines like NME’s “Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry wants his fans to stop buying him weed: He’d rather you bring him mirrors for his costumes”)
And some interactions right up to the end…
Amazingly, he was posting right up to the day before he died (at age 85) – and thinking of the larger community in the process:
And sharing music mixes this week, too:
Plus a video from earlier this year: