Lee Perry

Certainly one of the most, shall we say, interesting figures in the Jamaican music industry “The Upsetter” is celebrating his birthday today. Lee Perry begun his long and storied journey through music business selling records alongside another legendary figure, Prince Buster, for Studio One label owner Coxsone Dodd. Over time Perry started proving himself very helpful around the Studio One studios and eventually began to produce tunes for Dodd. But, as was to become a theme in Perry’s career, he ended up falling out with Dodd over money and the little issue of Dodd thinking Perry was a little bit “off” in the head. So Perry left and joined Joe Gibbs Amalgamated label, where many credit him for creating the famed rocksteady sound debuted in Roy Shirley’s hit “Hold Them”. Although the track is credited to Gibbs, it’s a safe bet Perry had more than a little bit to do with the track. Perry decided in 1968 he didn’t like Gibbs too much anymore and left to create his own label, Upsetter, and record “People Funny Boy” a tune recorded to badmouth Gibbs. And, along with “Nanny Goat” by Larry Marshall, it happens to be credited as one of the first examples of the reggae sound. This was only the start of a incredible run for Perry as he went on to record some absolute monster skinhead instrumentals with his Upsetters house band, consisting of cats like Gladstone Anderson, Glen Adams and Alva Lewis. Their “Return of Django” single hit number 5 on the UK charts near the end of 1969, certainly helped on by their popularity with skinheads. It was far from the only big tune for the Upsetter label, as Perry put out a number of huge tunes on the label throughout the early 70’s before going on to once again create a new sound, this time dub. Happy birthday, Scratch.


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