Tributes continue to pour in for the late Lee “Scratch” Perry OD, who died on Sunday. The Jamaican dub pioneer died at 85 in a hospital in Lucea, northwest Jamaica, per local media.

Though he rose to prominence in the 1970s with his dub experiments in reggae, Perry’s work stretches across genres to hip-hop, electronic, dance, and more. His final release came just earlier this month in the form of a collaborative single with Ral Ston, “No Bloody Friends”. In his nearly seven-decade music career, Perry was a highly sought-after producer who worked with everyone from Bob Marley and The Wailers to Beastie Boys to The Clash.

Perry—born Rainford Hugh Perry on March 20th, 1936 in Kendal, Jamaica—built his career from poverty, as he once told NME in 1984, “My father worked on the road, my mother in the fields. We were very poor. I went to school… I learned nothing at all. Everything I have learned has come from nature.” He went on to win Best Reggae Album at the 2003 Grammys for Jamaican E.T. and was nominated in 2008, 2010, and 2014. In 2012, Perry was bestowed with Jamaica’s civilian honor of Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander.

One of Perry’s most prolific and prominent pupils, Mad Professor, took to social media to honor his fallen mentor. Over their three decades of collaboration, Mad Professor—born Neil Fraser—and Perry released nearly 20 albums, “and have another 20 albums waiting to be released.” Fraser called Perry, “Totally ageless! Extremely creative, with a memory as sharp as a tape machine! A brain as accurate as a computer!”

Revisit Perry and Professor’s first collaboration, 1989’s Mystic Warrior, via the player below.

Lee “Scratch” Perry, Mad Professor – Mystic Warrior & Mystic Warrior Dub

Singer Max Romeo, whose work with Perry stretches back to 1976’s War Ina Babylon, spoke to Rolling Stone about his decorated history with Perry, whom he called “a genius in the truest sense of the word” and “the best I ever worked with in my 55 years in the business.”

“The first thing is, he was truly a producer; he didn’t just a sit in a chair in the studio and listen to what you got and record it,” Romeo told Rolling Stone. “He joined in in the building of the thing.”

Romeo credits Perry with saving what turned out to be the most enduring track off War Ina Babylon, “Chasing The Devil”. The singer admittedly tried to cut what would become one of his most well-known songs before Perry intervened.

“Actually, when the album was completed, it was the only track that I didn’t like. I went to [Perry] the next day after listening to ‘Chase the Devil’ and I told him, ‘The whole album is brilliant, beautiful, but one track is stupid to me.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Chase the Devil?’ He told me to go home and get some rest, because I was trying to cut the best track on the bloody album,” Romeo told Rolling Stone.

“I just went by what he said. I said, ‘Okay, if you feel that way about it.’ And it turned it to be true, it was the most successful track on the album. They’re all good tracks, but that one is the leader track,” he said.

Max Romeo – “Chasing The Devil”

[Video: Soweto Sound]

Beastie Boys, who hosted Perry as a special guest on the Hello Nasty track “Dr. Lee PhD”, paid tribute to the late multi-instrumentalist on Twitter, calling him a “true legend.”

Beastie Boys – “Dr. Lee PhD” (ft. Lee “Scratch” Perry)

[Video: BeastieBoys]

Other admirers of Perry’s vast body of work, including Questlove and Eric Krasno, have also paid their respects.


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With such a storied musical career, there is also a trove of archival footage of Lee “Scratch” Perry that is finally beginning to see the light of day. Check out vintage video of Perry recording The Upsetters and Junior Murvin and The Heptones at his Black Ark studio in Kingston in 1977, from the documentary Roots Rock Reggae, courtesy of Dust-to-Digital.


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R.I.P. Lee “Scratch” Perry.