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Unreleased Lee 'Scratch' Perry recordings destroyed in fire

Published:Tuesday | December 8, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Lee 'Scratch' Perry
Lee 'Scratch' Perry

When fire destroyed the recording studio of reggae legend Lee 'Scratch' Perry last Thursday, the singer not only lost the building and musical equipment inside, he also lost unreleased tracks of which there are no backup copies.

Fire destroyed his "secret laboratory" studio in Switzerland. the dub legend's collection of studio equipment, art, stage costumes and music were among the items totally destroyed.

In an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) Radio, the singer's wife, Mirielle Perry, said her husband often displayed careless behaviour, which has led her to take precautionary measures to keep him safe over the years. "I have to hide everything. Everything that burns, I have to hide," she said. "He loves candles, but I know he's careless, and he thinks nothing can happen to him."

She also revealed that in addition to the loss of musical equipment, the reggae singer also lost unreleased recordings that were stored on a USB card. Those recordings have no backup copies. "He stores everything on the USB now. All destroyed. And, you know, if I ask him to get a copy, to store something, to make sure nothing happens, he don't want to give me! He doesn't like to give away his energy, he says. That's how he thinks."


What happened


After the incident, Perry took to his Facebook page to tell fans what had happened, describing the situation as sad.

"Something very sad happened. I forgot to [put] out a candle and my whole secret laboratory burned out," he wrote on Facebook,

"My whole life collections, art, my magic hats, my magic boots, all my crazy show outfits and costumes: king, pope, general, magician... All my electronics and studio equipment and my magic mic, books, music, CDs ... . Everything gone."

Though his wife was seemingly upset, Perry's response to the incident was a calm one. Though admitting that he needed to make some changes in his life, the entertainer said, in life, "things just happen".

"Something has to happen to make the world go around, and that's what happened," he said.

"Maybe I have to make a change in my life and put away the candle-burning for a while and clean up my brain. Maybe I was tired and wound up sleeping - something like that - and didn't know the candle was burning."

As a result of the fire, Perry is asking fans to provide specially made costumes for his upcoming tour. Fans who contribute an outfit will be placed on the guest list and given backstage access when the Upsetter's tour gets to their city.

This isn't the first time one of Perry's studious has burned down. In 1979, the producer's legendary Black Ark in Kingston was set ablaze by Perry, closing out a vital chapter in the history of dub music. The Black Ark recording studio was where Bob Marley and the Wailers, Junior Murvin, Max Romeo, Paul McCartney and Wings and many more recorded some of their greatest hits.