Legendary reggae producer and pioneer of the dub sound, Lee “Scratch” Perry, passed away on August 29. I first discovered Lee Perry when I got deep into Bob Marley and the Wailers and found out Perry had produced several seminal Wailers tracks. I also loved the Clash song “Police and Thieves,” which I learned was a cover of Jamaican artist Junior Murvin which Lee Perry had produced. Perry also co-produced the song “Complete Control” by the Clash. Perry made a ton of great music with his band, the Upsetters, as well as collaborating with a range of artists from King Tubby, to Adrian Sherwood, to the Beastie Boys. I was excited when photographer Dennis Morris suggested we collaborate on a tribute to Lee “Scratch” Perry, and I decided to make an illustration based on a few of Dennis’ 1970’s photos of Perry at work in his Black Ark recording studio. I love the visual energy of Perry and the studio itself, which I think conveys the sonic energy and joyful spirit as a musician, producer, and iconic pioneer.
From Dennis Morris:
“He was the light! The strangest thing about Lee Perry was, whenever I photographed him, I never needed any light. For example, in the last session I did with him in early 2000, we spent the night travelling around London on top of an open-top bus; it was late, it was dark, but Scratch shone, he provided the light! He was truly a magical master of music and sound. He did not just hear music, he saw music, he saw the colours. To see him in the studio perform was truly magical, he jumped, he pounced, he pushed a button… he pushed another button and sounds just exploded from the speakers!”