Lee "Scratch" Perry (born Rainford Hugh Perry, on March 20, 1936, in Kendal, Jamaica) is a Grammy award-winning reggae and dub artist, who has been highly influential in the development and acceptance of reggae and dub music in Jamaica and overseas.
Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision Of Paradise documentary film, is the ultimate portrait of this true musical icon. Premiered at the East End Film Festival last weekend, the film will be in cinemas this September, and available on DVD/VOD this autumn. Watch the trailer below.
For the past 15 years director Volker Schaner has followed Perry on a spiritual and geographical journey taking in Jamacia, Ethopia, Germany, Switzerland and London. Over this period Volker earned Perry’s trust, resulting in a never-before-granted level of access and insight into Perrys’ fantastical, spiritual world. This 'classic in the making,' tells a story of epic, magical propotions that’s not a biography, more fairytale documentary, which is in turns funny, poetic and frequently mind blowing.
In additon to filmed footage of the man himself, plus an all-star cast of dub and reggae-related musicians, Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision Of Paradise is illustrated using unique animated scenes, that are influenced by both Ethiopian Christian Orthodox Church Art and the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.
Lee Scratch Perry is a godfather of both reggae and dub. Starting in the late 60s with The Upsetters, he wrote the book on Jamaican mixing desk trickery, then constantly ripped it up to create new aural blueprints for the music, via his Black Ark productions of the following decade. He has since then charted a waywardly idiosyncratic path, which has ensured legions of followers absorbing his every move.
Perry began making music in the late 50s for Clement Coxsone Dodd's label. Following a stint at Joe Gibbs's Amalgamated Records, Perry formed his own imprint, Upsetter, in 1968.In the early 1960s, Lee’s mixing board experiments resulted in the creation of dub. He is synonymous with his innovative production techniques and renowned for his studio band The Upsetters. In 1973, he built The Black Ark studios, where he produced records for iconic musicians like Bob Marley & the Wailers, Junior Byles, Junior Murvin, The Heptones, The Congos and Max Romeo. By 1978 The Black Ark had fallen into a state of disrepair and eventually, the studio burned to the ground; Perry insists that he torched the studio himself in a fit of rage.
Perry’s influence on contemporary music is immeasurable. He has recorded with The Orb, Keith Richards, The Beastie Boys, George Clinton, David Lynch, Andrew WK, Moby, Ari Up of The Slits, Bill Laswell, Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio, Sly Dunbar, Adrian Sherwood, Mad Professor and porn star Sasha Grey.
Although 79 years old, Lee is fit, sprightly and at a creative peak. Watch him perform at Fred Perry Sub-Sonic Live in London below.