Reggae giant and dub pioneer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry will be associated with Dundee in death as in life.
Perry, who has died aged 85, performed with the Robotiks backing band including The Mad Professor on the mixing desk at the Reading Rooms on April 3 2003.
Perry was known for his pioneering experiments in dub, which revolutionised not only reggae, but also hip hop, dance and other genres.
His 2003 performance reverberated far beyond the banks of the Tay and a blue plaque was erected by the fictional Dundee Department of Counter Culture to commemorate the night the man of much mystery, myth and legend performed live in the city.
So why was the gig so special?
The Dundee music scene you see had reached something of a low point around the early to mid-1990s when there was a dearth of venues for bands to play.
There was no suitable mid-level hall to hold shows and the Caird Hall was failing to attract the star names it had in the glory days of the 1960s and 70s.
Slowly but surely, however, things started to change for the better.
The Caird Hall was rejuvenated, The Doghouse established itself as a home from home for young bands, and Dundee’s nightclubs started to go down the live music route.
Jim Grieve, aka Jimmy Sykes, whose first reggae promotion was at the Victoria Road nightclub Blazers in 1983, became the proprietor of The Reading Rooms in 2001.
Jim and his brother Grant started bringing some of the best reggae, roots and underground music in the world to the Blackscroft venue.
London agents were soon calling him first to get their acts booked in for Scottish dates including one of reggae’s founding fathers who crafted sounds for Bob Marley.
Perry started his music career in the 1950s as an assistant at a reggae music label, before moving up to become a recording artist with the same label.
Here was a man Keith Richards once described as “the Salvador Dalí of music”.
Perry looked like a magpie
Tickets went on sale priced £20 and the doors opened at 9.30pm.
The city’s streets were already deserted by the time Perry was driven from his hotel to the venue where 400 people were already inside.
“Yes it’s a busy ghost town,” said Perry.
“The ghosts are all out tonight, they know Scratch is here.”
Perry was draped like a magpie in dozens of medals, trinkets, badges and pendants while wearing a hat which was covered in mirrors.
“Are you ready?” he said.
“I said are you ready?”
He looked every inch the self styled ‘Jamaican ET’.
“I am an alien from the other world,” he said.
“I live in space – I’m only a visitor here.”
Perry’s hat sent light beams reflecting all over the club before he proceeded to sing a dub version of Happy Birthday to no one in particular.
He was every bit as eccentric as his reputation implied, and then some.
The erstwhile dub genius, producer, mixologist and songwriter, who many claim has done most to shape the sound of dub, had the dance floor packed right from the start.
The crowd was transported back to the sounds of 70s Kingston by Perry and set highlights included Zion’s Blood, Inspector Gadget and Come Go With Me.
Perry offered blessings and shook outstretched hands while performing a 90-minute set of reggae and dub classics which would go down in Dundee folklore.
Babyshambles, Jake Bugg, Biffy Clyro, Franz Ferdinand, Afrobeat Orchestra and Fat Freddy’s Drop would all go on to perform at the Reading Rooms over the years.
Speaking in 2013, Jim Grieve was in no doubt which was the greatest-ever performance to have graced the famous stage at the former city library.
“I just always wanted to bring something good and different to Dundee, to show we can be up there with anything, anywhere,” said Jim.
“Lee Scratch Perry, that’ll never be bettered.”