Scratch’s final farewell

Gov’t to erect bust of music pioneer

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

CAULDWELL, Hanover — Late reggae legend Lee “Scratch” Perry had big plans for a recording studio, an art house, and a self-sustainable agriculture programme for the parish of Hanover, according to his widow Mirella.

“It was just one week after [his passing] he was supposed to choose the spot for his studio on the river and that is not possible anymore. We did have to choose it for him. We planted two trees right there in Lucea, a tree of life,” said Mirella.

She was speaking at a short graveside service for Lee, who was laid to rest on a family plot in the Francis Town district of Cauldwell, on Thursday.

A tribute from Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange — read by the Member of Parliament for Hanover Western, Tamika Davis — said she was “saddened by his transition but at the same time, grateful for the enduring monuments – his music, his hits, his personality, his fashion, his philosophy.”

According to Grange’s tribute, the Government had plans to erect a bust of Perry in Hanover.

“To his widow Mirella, children, siblings, and other relatives, it is my intention to honour him with a bust [to] be erected in Hanover as a fitting tribute to one of the parish’s greatest sons, as part of the Jamaica 60 Diamond Jubilee celebrations,” read Davis.

There was heavy rainfall before the body arrived and shortly after the casket was placed in the sepulchre, which made the journey to the graveside a bit tedious. For some who attended the funeral, their vehicles got stuck in mud.

Erroll Perry – nephew of the dub visionary – while calling for his uncle to be honoured, highlighted the need for better roads in the community.

“We need the Government and everyone to come in and do something. Look at this area that we have to come through. People vote for a Government and put Government in place. Look at the road,” argued Erroll, who added, “a lot of people are going to want to come here from abroad and from all over the island. “We need them to do something to this road. Fix it up and keep this legacy with Lee “Scratch” Perry as one of the world number one man. So, hopefully, these people will consider it and know that not because it looks like bush, but this is a beautiful place.”

Steve Weinstein, who operates Jah Freedom Recording Studio in Negril, said he has been a friend of Perry’s for the past 19 years.

“I came to Jamaica to do music, and within a few months of opening my recording studio and moving to Jamaica, Lee “Scratch” Perry walked into the yard of my recording studio and greeted me with happiness, thankfulness, and appreciation for bringing such a studio to Negril,” said Weinstein.

Scratch's final farewell

Perry, whose cutting-edge music helped make reggae a global brand, died in the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover, on August 29. He was 85 years old.

Born in Kendal, Hanover, Perry is probably best known for his work with Bob Marley, with many crediting him with formulating Marley’s unique sound. In fact, Perry’s in-house studio band called Upsetter later became The Wailers.

Perry, whose given name is Rainford Hugh Perry, worked with Bob Marley and The Wailers on songs such as Duppy Conqueror, Small Axe, Rastaman Live Up, and Jah Live. He also worked with revolutionary artistes like Max Romeo and Junior Byles.

Perry, who recorded as an artiste in the late 1960s and 1970s, was in demand throughout Europe and parts of the United States. In 2003, he won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for Jamaican E T.

He was also nominated in the category in 2007 for The End of An American Dream; in 2008 for Repentance; in 2010 for Revelation; and, in 2014 for Back At The Controls.

In 2012, he was honoured by the the Jamaican Government with the Order of Distinction for his contribution to Jamaican music.

In additon to his widow, Mirella, Perry is survived by four children.

Scratch's final farewell
Scratch's final farewell

Featured Image – Minister of Entertainment and Culture Olivia “Babsy” Grange place a rose in the casket of music legend Lee “Scratch” Perry while undertaker Peter Perry of Perry’s Funeral Home in St Catherine looks on. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

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