Visionary reggae pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry has passed away at the age of 85.
The Jamaican native died in the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea on Sunday morning, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed on Twitter. Perry’s cause of death is still unknown.
Perry exerted a monumental influence on reggae and Jamaican music, leaving his mark with his own music as well as producing for artists like Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Beastie Boys, Max Romero, The Congos, and others. His use of studio equipment as an instrument greatly impacted reggae and the rise of the dub style. Helming the Upsetter record imprint and opening the Black Ark studio in 1973, Perry had a hand in the success of many reggae musicians over his storied career, which began in the late 1950s and saw him produce over 1,000 songs.
Born in Kendal, Jamaica in 1936, Perry would later relocate to Kingston, where an apprenticeship with Coxsone Dodd of Studio One sparked the distinctive style and reggae sound for which he would become well known. He was awarded a GRAMMY Award in 2002 for his album Jamaican E.T., and a Jamaican national honor, the Order of Distinction, in 2012.
After years of living in Switzerland, Perry returned to Jamaica in early 2021. He leaves behind a legacy as a beloved pioneering musician and a Jamaican icon.