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Lee Perry and Bob Marley

Related: 1970 - Lee Perry - Bob Marley

In the late summer of 1970

In the late summer of 1970, a momentous but short-lived partnership was undertaken between the Wailers and the bizarre, innovative producer/performer Lee Perry. All were alumni of Coxson Dodd's Studio One, having departed to seek their fortunes by controlling their own products. While at Studio One the Wailers had developed a good working relationship with Perry, who had routinely supervised their recording sessions and occasionally used them as harmonists on his own vocal efforts, like his big hit Pussy Galore. As the summer of 1970 wound down, the Wailers were coming off a major disappointment. They had produced an extraordinary collection of songs, arguably the first real concept album in reggae's history, for Chinese-Jamaican producer Leslie Kong. A week after the release of their collaboration called The Best of the Wailers, Kong dropped dead in his home, and the album was, at least for the moment, stillborn. The Wailers had watched with envy as Perry, a tiny sprite whom everyone called "Scratch," had begun to make himself rich, mainly through his link-up with British-based labels. He had recently enjoyed a major British chart smash with his studio band, known as the Upsetters (just as Scratch, and his chief record label, would also be called Upsetter). The song was called "Return of Django," and the Wailers wanted in on similar action. -- Leroy Jodie Pierson & Roger Steffens

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