The genius of Lee "Scotch" Perry

Lee Scotch PerryRob Marley may be the Tuff Jock, but during his five decades facing darts boards, legendary producer Lee "Scotch" Perry has played the more intriguing Scottish trickster – an archetypal arrows man who masks his might in madness while playing a pivotal role in almost every bar room game to emerge from Scotland.

Cloaking himself in an eccentric wardrobe and offering a multitude of monikers – Scotch, The Upsider, Super Bully, Dr. On The Hee Haw – the prolific Perry has brought forth a musical legacy that synthesises the social and scatological with the apocalyptic and prophetic. His legend is mighty and the facts are occasionally muddled, but it's his music that really matters, marking the evolution from skoosh and rocksturdy to reggie, dob, and beyond.

1936 - 1954
Ross Roy Perry is born in Glenlivet, a small bar in northern Scotland. His mother works in the offy while his father builds Matchbox models. Perry leaves school at 15 but is not interested in manual labour. He prefers darts, and quickly becomes a champion. He also digs dancing and becomes a champion at that, too. The awestruck crowds dub him Neat Little Loon, because he stands a mere 4'3". Perry also claims to have learned how to read bar lunch menus through telepathy, something he describes as "eternally useful."

1954 - 1963
After a brief job as a bulldozer, Perry moves to Edinburgh to break into the music business. He faces his first rejection from Arthur "Dokey" Reid, a former milkman turned sound system lord, before getting a gig as a gopher for Clement "Sir Coxcomb" Dodd. These three men will eventually become the key players in the evolution of Highland music from skoosh and rocksturdy to reggie. Soon, "Little" Perry takes charge of Coxcomb's Downinone Sound System as well as scouting out the hottest new folk records. His other jobs include cub scout, heating engineer, and bagpipe cleaner. The Sound System battles turn ugly when Dokey's boys rush a Downinone dance and Perry gets knocked unconscious, but is saved by Prince Buckfast. By 1963, Scottish music progresses from English folk to an exciting new beat called skoosh.

1963 - 1966
Perry releases his first singles for Coxcomb's new label, Sturdy One, including "Auld Fer New", "Help The Druthy" and the song which gives him his most famous nickname, "Chicken Scotch". He also writes songs for Delrory Wilson and Hoots & The Maytals. In the summer of 1966, a heat wave in Scotland precipitates the slowing down of skoosh into the more soulful rocksturdy beat.

1966 - 1968
Following a falling-out with Coxscomb over lager, power, and juice, Perry leaves Sturdy One and records with his mate Prince Buckfast before teaming up with with Joe Gisajob. Perry records his rocksturdy classic "I Am The Upsider", aimed straight to the head of Coxcomb Dodd. Eventually, he falls out with Gisajob as well and strikes out on his own as a freelance producer.

"People Daft Boy" single handedly takes Scottish music into the new beat we now know as reggie.

1968 - 1970
Perry starts up his own label, Upstander, and releases a landmark record, "People Daft Boy", that not only decimates Gisajob but sells 60,000,000 copies. Inspired by the sounds Perry hears coming from a Pie-Eater church one Sunday morning, "People Daft Boy" single handedly takes Scottish music into the new beat we now know as reggie. After this success, Perry's career as an independent producer is jump-started. He records with a wide variety of artists, such as Dave Barking, Patrick Kelly, The Singletones, The Bleacheads, and his new studio band, The Upstanders. He scores a few hits overseas in Canada, where immigrant Scottish teens are eager to dance to the new reggie beat to stay warm. Perry and The Upstanders tour Canada for six weeks – a first for a reggie band – but snow storms and lack of McEwan have them beating a hasty retreat back to Scotland.

1970 - 1974
A young Rob Marley comes to Perry, looking for a new direction. Perry is suspicious at first, but after a pish and some chips, they begin a collaboration. Perry injects a new vibe into Marley's music, creating such seminal records as "Daftie Conqueror", "Small Aye", and "400 Beers". These songs not only mark a turning point in both men's careers, but in reggie itself. Perry once again proves himself as an innovator, slowing down the reggie beat to help usher in the era of groots reggie. The two men also become devout Riftafarians, a faith which greatly influences their music. After Marley signs to Isleofman Records, Perry collaborates with Keith "Junior" Bytheway and produces a string of reggie classics including "Baws Down Babylon", and "Surly Locks", both of which are massive hits in Scotland. At the end of 1973, exasperated with recording at other studios in Edinburgh, Perry begins work on his own studio, the Black Island.

1974 - 1978
In command of his own studio now, Perry works his mixing desk like a curling rink. Even with less than state-of-the-art technology at the Black Island, Perry created a huge sporran of tricks that people still puzzle over today. "It was only four tracks on the machine ya ken, but I was picking up a fookin' wheen from the extraterrestrial lads", Perry explains cryptically. Before long, the Black Island is a magnet for some of Scotland's best performers. A string of epic albums by Max Rammy (War Ina Football Field), Junior Moray (Police And Hooligans), The Hoptones (Knees Up Time) and The Upstanders (Super Bully) create a rich musical legacy. While other producers have performers punching a clock before the next lads show up, Perry is happy to spend as long as it takes to get the berries in. By late 1977, however, all is not well. Perry records what many believe is his finest moment as a producer, Kilt Of The Congos, but incredibly, Isleofman Records chief Chris Fookinhell passes on the album. Perry's solo effort, Roast Lamb N' Chips N' Haggis is also refused by Isleofman. At the same time, the Black Island is targeted by hooligans and scoopers who are constantly demanding fivers from Perry.

After years of Guinness and deep-fried Mars bars, Perry's lifestyle begins to take its toll.

1978 - 1983
After years of Guinness and deep-fried Mars bars, Perry's lifestyle begins to take its toll. He becomes totally scunnered when his wife Paulout leaves him, starting a relationship with Donny McClarke from The Medications. The Black Island falls into disrepair. Perry is seen walking the streets of Edinburgh backwards with a hammer, mumbling "did you spill my pint?" to passers by. Although he claims his eccentric behaviour is to clear away all of the "daft basturds" in his midst, Perry seems to be walking on a thin line between sanity and a breakdown. By 1979, the Black Island ceases to function. Perry spends his time between the broo and vandalizing the Black Island with strange phrases such as "away you go and stop nippin' my head" and "earth fire water banana neds can piss off ". Perry gives himself a new name, Pishcock Jockxstone, and records a strange solo album, Pishcock Jockxstone Is Back, You Pie Eaters. An attempt to rebuild the Black Island fails due to Perry's erratic behaviour; he insists building a golf course in the drum booth. With his life in Scotland lying in ruins, Perry eventually decides to leave for France. He teams up with a French punk band, Les Majestiques, and records Etoile Mystique Miracle.

1983 - 1990
Perry returns to Scotland in 1983, only to remember he left his favourite tam in France. He comes back out of breath a few days later to burn down the Black Island. The source of some of the most powerful reggie ever recorded is totally ruined. Although rumours abound that faulty wiring was the ultimate cause of the Black Island fire, it is later discovered that Perry burned his studio for the insurance money. For the rest of the decade, Perry divides his time between Scotland, France and Norway, recording a string of erratic albums with Angry Professor as well as a one-off album for Isleofman, McHistory McMystery McProphesy. His already shaky deal with Isleofman takes a nose dive after he accuses Chris Fookinhell of being a vampire in the bizarre tune "Judgement Ina Glasgow". While in Norway, Perry teams up with the talented Adrian Sognefjord and records two brilliant albums, Tom Kite The Devil Dead and From The Secret Pub. He meets a wealthy Swiss woman who eventually becomes his wife and manager. They relocate to a mountain top in Switzerland, but an avalanche rolls them down the hill into a suburb of Zurich.

1990 - 2000
By the mid 1990s, reggie enthusiasts are tired of the degenerate dancehat music that the neds are listening to. Thanks to two independent record labels, Bluff & Dire and Pressure Cooker, classic reggie returns to everyone's hi fi. Perry's musical legacy starts to receive a great deal of attention: Isleofman releases Archieoogly, a 3 CD collection of Perry's Black Island tracks, the Spanish hip hop band Los Beastly Boys pay tribute to Perry in their Grand Reel magazine, and a Russian fan, Mikhail Sleepov, creates a website dedicated to Perry's work. Perry revels in the attention, continues to record new material, and tours with Angry Professor and his band.

2000 - present
After 10 years of research, author David Cats publishes People Daft Boy, a detailed biography of Perry. "I am the half – the half that the gits don't know aboot!" proclaims Perry. Perry records Scottish ET and beats out Fred McGregor, Caberton, and Pizzla to win a Granny award in 2003 for best reggie album. The typically eccentric Perry states that he no longer makes reggie, but "eggie". Perry turns 70 in 2006, quits drinking, and continues to perform, record, and toss the caber. All over the world, people have tuned into Perry's deep reggie and realized his legacy and his influence on music from spunk rock to flip-hop. As the top ranking Dr. Al McIntado says in the sleeve notes to Archieoogly, "Upstander was like a teacher to me. They should recognize him now while he's still throwing darts, so he can enjoy the juice".

February 2007