Lee “Scratch” Perry is the psychedelic godfather of reggae, the mad scientist of dub and the producer of Super Ape and Bob Marley’s early hits to the Clash’s “Complete Control.” His music and antics are the stuff of legend, and in the new documentary The Upsetter, filmmakers Ethan Higbee and Adam Bhala Lough take a never-before-seen look at the artist Rolling Stone calls “Reggae’s Mad Scientist” in our current issue. In addition to interviews with Perry, The Upsetter features extensive archival footage from the musician’s own collection.
In the exclusive sneak peek above, watch Perry lobby for the legalization of weed and take part in a religious ceremony that involves a bonfire — in his own living room. It’s footage like this that backs up Perry’s claims that he burned down his famed studio the Black Ark to rid it of its evil spirits. “I needed to be forgiven of my sin,” Perry tells Rolling Stone. “I burned my sin, and I am born again.” The Upsetter, which is narrated by actor Benicio Del Toro, charts Perry’s journey from Jamaica to his current home in Zurich, Switzerland, and all the music in between.
“You could never put your finger on Lee Perry — he’s the Salvador Dali of music,” Keith Richards tells RS. “He’s a mystery. The world is his instrument. You just have to listen. More than a producer, he knows how to inspire the artist’s soul.”