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Emily Eavis and Akala pay tribute to ‘musical genius’ Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

Record producer and singer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry has died at the age of 85 (Tim Goode/PA)
Record producer and singer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry has died at the age of 85 (Tim Goode/PA)

Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis and rapper Akala have led tributes following the death of record producer and singer Lee “Scratch” Perry at the age of 85.

Local media reported that Perry died in hospital in Lucea, northern Jamaica, with the country’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, tweeting his “deep condolences” to the family and friends of the man born Rainford Hugh Perry.

Eavis hailed the singer as a “musical genius”, while rapper and activist Akala wrote “Rest in power”.

Eavis tweeted: “RIP the almighty Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, musical genius, free spirit and a regular Glastonbury performer. We shall miss him.”

Fellow Jamaican and reggae musician Capleton and funk legend Bootsy Collins added their condolences, with Collins remembering Perry’s “innovative studio techniques and production style”.

Lord Of The Rings star Elijah Wood called the artist an “influential pioneer” and a “towering master”.

The Beastie Boys, who first worked with Perry when he opened for them in Japan in 1996 before they joined forces on the track Dr Lee PhD as part of 1998’s Hello Nasty album, also hailed the musician’s “pioneering spirit”.

“We are truly grateful to have been inspired by and collaborated with this true legend,” the group said in a tweet, which featured a photograph of Perry smoking alongside them in the studio, signed by rapper Mike D.

Folk singer Billy Bragg called the Jamaican “The Great Upsetter”, while politician Mr Holness noted that Perry “was a pioneer in the 1970s’ development of dub music with his early adoption of studio effects to create new instrumentals of existing reggae tracks”.

British label Trojan Records worked with Perry on an instrumental version of Fats Domino’s Sick And Tired in 1969 which peaked at number five on the British charts, further growing reggae in the UK and giving the musician the financial freedom to open the Upsetter Record shop in Kingston, Jamaica.

The label said the passing of the “mighty Upsetter” was “dreadfully sad news”, while The Orb’s Alex Paterson tweeted: “The disco devil has left Babylon, Lee will be forever in my heart”.

Electronic group The Prodigy shared a photo of Perry at a mixing desk with the caption: “Total rebel, pioneer and inspiration. May ur bass shake systems and souls forever.”

“RIP to the King”, wrote British rapper Ghostpoet, while Lupe Fiasco quoted lyrics from Perry’s group The Upsetters’ song Zion’s Blood: “African blood is flowing through I veins so I and I shall never fade away.”

Perry’s fellow record producer, Steve Albini, said “few people were as weird or cast as long a shadow as Lee Perry”.

Albini added on Twitter: “His records were shocking and became talismans for anybody who ever tried to manifest the sound in their head.”

Brainfeeder label boss Flying Lotus wished Perry a “blessed journey into the infinite”, and band The Mountain Goats tweeted there were “few more important figures in the music of the 20th century”.

“He expanded the vocabulary of studio sound; lived a long life & leaves a lasting legacy. Play his music for your kids, see how instantly they love it. It’s universal.”

Perry, who collaborated with Sir Paul McCartney and Bob Marley, was married twice and had six children.

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