Widow reveals plans for Black Ark museum to honour Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

Lee Scratch smiling
Reggae legend Lee Scratch’ Perry

Mireille Perry, the widow of Grammy-winning reggae legend Lee Scratch’ Perry, has revealed plans to transform the iconic Black Ark studio in Washington Gardens, St Andrew into a museum.

“The house has been sold and we’re going to rebuild it exactly how it was. You know all his rights were taken away, he don’t have no rights to nothing. The music and touring was his income, we had a plan, he didn’t want to keep the house and we wanted someone to make a museum, people are going to build it exactly how it was,” Mrs Perry told Observer Online.

She did not reveal the identity of the developer but said “that person was connected to him from day one”.

In 1973, Perry built a backyard studio in Kingston, naming it the “Black Ark,” which would birth countless reggae and dub classics. He famously admitted to torching it himself in 1979 over ‘bad vibes’. It is rumoured that in the 1980s, he tried to resurrect his Black Ark studio so he set up all of the equipment, then cut all of the wires and dug a duck pond in the studio instead. After three weeks and no ducks, Perry cast spells on all that were involved and took off to live in Europe. 

Mrs Perry also vowed to continue to push Perry’s dream in an Instagram post where said: “In the memory and honor of LEE SCRATCH PERRY we’ll build his £$P community in the exact way that he dreamt about. He had a very clear picture how he wanted it to look”.

She articulated Perry’s vision. 

“We knew that one day we would not be able to travel because the world will be like it is today. He always dream to have land in Hanover, he always say he wanted to build a studio in Hanover, and have a house with art, an area where no one can trouble him and say ‘don’t make so much noise’, I am going to make this a reality, Lee would have wanted that,” she said.  

Scratch’ returned to Jamaica in January 2021 after living in Switzerland for several years. He had announced plans to, among other things, establish a community in the island where he could get away from what he described as “Babylon Madness” in Switzerland where he said the “energy was not right”.

Mrs Perry said, “The plan was to have people come to him from all over the world, because he would not travel anymore.”

‘Scratch’ Perry died on Sunday aged 85.