A documentary on the late dub legend Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is now available to watch online – check it out below.
The Upsetter: The Life & Music Of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is part of the Roots & Revolution: Reggae On Film series, documenting the genre’s worldwide impact, and was released in 2009.
Narrated by Benicio del Toro and starring Perry himself, alongside directors Ethan Higbee and Adam Bhala Lough, the film arrives six months after the reggae legend passed away at the age of 85.
According to the Jamaica Observer, Perry (real name Rainford Hugh Perry) died at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Western Jamaica after battling illness. No cause of death has yet been revealed.
The Upsetter is now available to watch here on the Criterion Collection, and you can check out a snippet of the film below.
Born in rural Jamaica in 1936, Perry – also known as The Upsetter – moved to Kingston in the early 1960s. He described his upbringing in an interview with 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.”
Perry produced more than 1000 recordings during his career, and he worked with a wide variety of other artists including Beastie Boys, Junior Murvin, the Congos, the Orb, and Max Romeo.
He also worked on some of Bob Marley And The Wailers’ best early recordings such as the ‘Soul Rebel’ and ‘Soul Revolution’ albums as well as the ‘Small Axe’, ‘Duppy Conqueror’, ‘Jah Live’, ‘Punky Reggae Party’, and ‘Rastaman Live Up’ singles.
An NME obituary to Perry read: “The word ‘maverick’ seems short thrift for the dub legend. You got the impression that what Perry could see, hear and think was different to anything that you or I could. Most commonly known as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (though he’d sometimes go as Lee, Little, King, The Upsetter, Pipecock Jackson, Super Ape, Ringo, Emmanuel, The Rockstone, Small Axe… and more) onstage and off he could be found dressed head to toe in jewellery and trinkets.
“He might wear a crown, or a native American headdress. Sometimes his hair would be dyed the colour of the Jamaican flag, green foliage, sometimes even seaweed extruding, the fug of ganja following him wherever he went.”