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It doesn't pay to upset the Upsetter

Sergio Rotman is a man of many talents from Argentina. He used to swing with the famous world beat combo Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, but now rocks with a new band, Cienfuegos. He also records and produces his wife Mimi Maura. His long list of friends includes Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club), who related a very upsetting story about Scratch, Compass Point studios, a racist, and a hurricane...

"Tom Tom Club were recording their second album at Compass Point studios in the Bahamas, and at the same time Scratch was there working on History Mystery Prophecy. Compass Point is a kind of Club Med recording studio, with an amazing ocean view and luxury accommodations for visitors. Chris and Tina were staying in a loft above the studio, and one night Scratch was visiting, playing with one of Tina's kids. A character who shall remain nameless (but who is actually a well known Island artist) was also there, and loudly asked Tina if she was going to let her child 'be touched by a nigger'. Tina answered him with a punch, and told him to hit the road. Scratch didn't move or speak..."

"At the time, Scratch was having money problems with Chris Blackwell (who owned Compass Point at the time), and this racist character happened to be a good friend of Blackwell's. This was the last thing Scratch needed to learn at the time! He had also run afoul of the black Evangelists who ran the church next door to the studio. With this much aggravation in the air, Scratch decided to leave the next day."

Scratch was outside in the lightning and thunder next to a huge tree, snapping Polaroids of himself.

"That night a small hurricane hit Nassau, and Tina was awoken close to midnight. Looking out the window, she saw an amazing sight. Scratch was outside in the lightning and thunder next to a huge tree, wrapping the trunk with wire and snapping Polaroids of himself. He then stuck the snapshots to the tree, which was this huge, weird kind of tree with branches sticking out in all directions. After this bizarre stunt, things took a turn for the worse at Compass Point. First they found chicken's blood splattered all over the studio walls and the church next door. Then the studio itself began to malfunction. For more than ten years, world famous acts had recorded there without any troubles, now suddenly the walls and equipment were ruined by sea salt. By 1987, Compass Point had to be cleaned for a major clean-up, and didn't reopen until 1992."

Sergio also related the following amusing anecdote: Tina and Chris tried to get Scratch to produce the first Tom Tom Club album, and he said that his price would be $1000 an hour. When they told him his price was too expensive, Scratch offered the following compromise: "Alright, give me $8000 and I'll make the album in eight hours!"

April 1999