Ziggy Marley Honors Lee 'Scratch' Perry: 'A Magician, A Philosopher, A Musical Scientist'

Ziggy Marley remembered late reggae and dub great Lee “Scratch” Perry’s “genius, uniqueness, courage and freedom,” in a tribute following the musician’s death Sunday, August 29th, at 85.

In a tribute shared with Rolling Stone, Marley said Perry’s death brought memories of venturing to his home studio in Kingston, Jamaica with his father, Bob Marley. “It was always a unique experience being around him,” Marley said. “He opened minds with his creativity and his personality. Some people thought it was madness, but I recognized it was genius, uniqueness, courage and freedom. He made no apology for being himself and you had to accept that and figure out the deeper meanings to his words and character.”

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Marley said the last time he spoke with Perry was several years ago in Europe, where they chatted at length about the state of reggae at the time. What Perry said resonated greatly with Marley — that there was a unique “magic” contained in the music of Perry and Bob Marley’s generation, and that “spirituality was the key to that magic.”

“Scratch was a massive personality, he was a creator, a pioneer, a wizard, a shaman, a magician, a philosopher, a musical scientist. A man like him will never come this way again,” Marley said. “One of a kind. He will be missed a lot by those of us who had the time to experience him not just through music but through knowing him personally.”

Perry had a long, occasionally fractious relationship with Bob Marley that yielded some of the genre’s best albums, including the Wailers’ Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution. “Everyone in the room knew that Bob might not be the international superstar he already was had it not been for Scratch,” journalist Vivien Goldman wrote in her Perry appreciation. “For it was the visionary Scratch — impish, zany, forever keeping you guessing — who really pushed their sound forward in the 1960s, when the Wailers were a hot local ska trio.”

Tributes have poured in from the reggae world and beyond since Perry’s death. Max Romeo called him a “genius in the truest sense,” while Questlove wrote, “Pure Innovation. Pure Imagination. This Man Was Plug Ins long before you studio cats today can simply press one button and instantly created sound chaos. Way before The Bomb Squad. The God Of Black Ark. the true Sound Journey. One of the most awe inspiring producer/engineers/visionaries.”

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