Make the Jump if you’re interested in reading Leonard Smalls’ Continuing Adventures With Lee “Scratch” Perry…

Landing in Norman Manley Airport in Kingston yesterday, I go through the usual rigmarole at Customs.

How long are you staying?

3 days.

What are you doing here?

I’m a journalist.

Who are you here to see?

Uh, Lee Perry.

I might as well have said, “I’m here to see your king.” Guy is astonished. Ping pong eyes. I try to suppress the inner feeling of glee overflowing, of being able to meet and talk to one of my musical idols in his home country. Lee “Scratch” Perry. One of the most important figures in Jamaican music, world music, and just plain music. Revered by countless musicians. Et cetera. Et cetera. Lee’s been in Switzerland for years now, but is down in Jamaica to shoot his first-ever music video for his new album Repentance out in August. Our first meeting, the clothes fitting, is at 2 pm.

No Lee.

3:30 pm.

No Lee.

5:00 pm.

Lee finally arrives. The man has a glow. My palms are slick and I think its pretty obvious I have contracted some form of mild Lou Gehrig’s Disease. We gotta push the fitting back to the next day. Coincidentally, it’s Caribbean Fashion Week here so we all roll to the fashion exhibition. On the way, countless people approach Scratch for both blessings and money.

One guy gets on his knee and salutes him.

At the exhibit, a special announcement is made over the PA about his arrival and after the show, he is swamped by admirers looking for a handshake, a photo, a blessing. Whatever they can get. We all retreat to a couple of palm trees outside, where Lee expounds on everything from reggae to the Pope to Prince Charles. You don’t so much have a conversation with Lee as you try to keep up. A simple “How’s it goin?” may get a 10-minute response about whatever topic Scratch feels like discussing. (This is, after all, the man who scratched out every “E” written in his studio because he thought the letter was evil. And this was before he decided to burn the whole studio down cos it held “unclean souls”.)

Another journalist who has known Scratch for over 20 years says something about “No hard feelings.” Scratch replies, “I sometimes try to have it, but it’s too hard,” before talking about all the love he received from people earlier that night. Today is the video shoot so check back for more later.


Leonard Smalls

Click HERE to read Dispatches From the Edge, vol I

Click HERE to read Dispatches From the Edge, vol III: “Scratch”, Caribbean Strippers, Souljah Boy and Magical Boots

3 Responses to “Leonard Smalls’ Dispatches From the Edge, vol II: My Adventures with Lee “Scratch” Perry”

  1. […] HERE to read Dispatches From the Edge, vol II: Leonard Lands in […]

  2. If you’re hard to take a choice,please follaw an old saying in China: letting nature take its course!

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