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October 14, 2015Feature

Eric Davidson gets to the root of life with an innovative and eccentric living legend

Rainford Hugh Perry was born in a small town called Kendal in central Jamaica in 1936. Rainford assumed the pseudonym Lee Scratch Perry and went on to become one of the most innovative names in reggae and dub.

So, naturally, when an interview with Lee came a-knockin’ I jumped at the opportunity. To speak to someone who is widely considered as a living legend, someone who has worked with the likes of Bob Marley and Max Romeo, someone who paved the way for genres like ska and dubstep, was an exciting prospect.

"Rewind all evil that I have done."

Perry is a man with years of experience and eight decades of stories to tell.

I started off asking him out of all the genres he paved the way for, which was his favourite?

“Rewind everything. Rewind Jamaica. Rewind Bob Marley. Rewind England. Rewind London. Rewind the Third World. Rewind the Devil. Rewind all evil that I have done.”

This answer set the bar to what would be one of the most perplexing, but oddly interesting, interviews I have ever conducted.

“No Devil music, no rebel music, no ragamuffin music, no ragapuffin, no hell angel music, no evil music,” he continued. “Some of the evil in Jamaica comes from cigarettes and white rum. Stop eating evil meat and evil beef. Stop smoking evil nicotine.

“Dub has no virus. Dub has no bacteria. Dub has no bad man.”

Our conversation went on for a long time with Perry discussing the evils in America and how the sound-system culture was corrupted by ‘vampires’, but it was religion that was always on the mind of the iconic musician.

“Some people believe there is no God, but I do. The people who denounce and deny Jesus are a big problem. Jesus was a teacher who said ‘love your enemy’.

“There’ll be no peace in the world while vengeance exists. Eye for eye and tooth for tooth doesn’t work.

“I respect Jesus and I will never be an anti-Christ.”

Truly starting his musical career in the 1950s and now pushing 80 years of age, Perry also attributes his ability to keep touring to his faith.

“Those who become anti-Christ lose the momentum of life. I get my energy from Jesus.”

I could listen to him speak all day.

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry returns to Dublin on March 19 where he’ll play The Bowery. Tickets on sale from December 9.

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