Dancehall / Feature

Lee “Scratch” Perry Billboard Legacy

Lee “Scratch” Perry sports an impressive legacy on the Billboard charts.

The reggae fraternity has had some major losses of iconic players in the last year. The latest blow came after news emerged that legendary pioneer in the genre, Lee “Scratch” Perry, passed away on August 29. According to reports, he died at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover, after a brief sickness that has not yet been revealed.

As with those who have gone before him, his invaluable contribution to reggae and dancehall will be immortalized in the body of his work. A significant part of his legacy is tied to the Billboard albums charts that he was behind.

Lee “Scratch” Perry’s magic touch, which featured in not just reggae but in his dance albums were prominently featured on the Billboard charts, where he scored at least 17 titles. The first of the 17 to hit the charts was From the Secret Laboratory. That was in 1990, and the album did well, eventually peaking at #8 on the World Albums chart.

Scratch Perry work would then feature again, this time on the Reggae Albums chart. That would take him 16 years as that album Panic in Babylon charted in 2006. It peaked at #13. His album Repentance, two years later, performed better and got to #6 on the chart.

From there, he would consistently find albums that charted. In 2010, he got to #10 with Sound System Scratch: Lee Perry’s Dub Plate Mixes (1973-1979), and in 2011 he would get two entries with Rise Again, which got to #8 and Return of Sound System Scratch: More Lee Perry Dub Plate Mixes and Rarities that also peaked at the same position.

The following year one of his renowned pieces, The Orbserver in the Star House, made it to two charts. It was #23 on the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart and #4 on the Reggae Albums chart.

The prolific producer’s work continued to chart, and in the same year, 2012, he had two more albums on the Reggae charts. This time, The Sound Doctor: Black Ark Singles and Dub Plates (1972-1978) peaked at #9 nine, and High Plains Drifter also reached the same peak.

A year later, Lee “Scratch” Perry was again in the charts, this time with More Tales from the Observatory (The Orb featuring Lee Scratch Perry), which hit #6, and Upsetters Present: Roaring Lion that got to #12 in 2014. In the same year, Back on the Controls reached #five.

Three years later, in 2017, he was once again on the charts. This time with Super Ape Returns to Conquer by Lee Scratch Perry and Subatomic Sound System, which peaked at #5. It seemed that his eclectic taste in music got better and better with time as he was once again on the charts in 2019. This time he had multiple albums featured.

What was significant about that effort was that he was able to finally record his first number one album. It would also be his only album to perform so well. That album was Heavy Rain. The other albums under his name for that year included Rainford, which got to #2, Life of the Planets, which was an EP that got to #3, and Roots Reggae Dub (Special Edition) which also impressed as it got to #3.

Before his passing, his latest effort, Roast Fish Collie Weed and Corn Bread, got to #8 in June of this year. The respected producer always had an ear for good music and is the man behind some of the classics in the genre, including some of the Bob Marley and Wailers hits.

It’s no wonder that tributes have been pouring in for the legendary producer from all corners of the globe. He will be remembered as both a genius and one of the best to ever carry the torch of reggae and Jamaican music.