No-one throws a DJ party like Scratchy. The renowned DJ who toured with the legendary Clash, Scratchy still has his finger on the rockin’ dance pulse, bringing together an irresistible blend of global rock’n’roll, reggae and roma, a true mestizo mix of the greatest music on the planet, from and for all times.
In an era when just about everyone calls themselves a DJ, Scratchy stands out as a genuine, independent and free-thinking phenomenon. For the past 40 years, this Selectah has been Rockin’ The Frontline, starting with his first punk gig on July 5th 1976, alongside The Ramones at Dingwalls Dancehall, the famous London club where Scratchy was resident DJ for two years.
It was a consciousness and love of rockin‘n’rollin roots music, a formidable reputation from his ongoing club and concert work at all the major venues and events in London, from the Speakeasy to Dingwalls, from the Roundhouse to the Lyceum, plus an initial couple of tours with Dr.Feelgood, that led to two years as the on-the-road tour DJ with his favourite band The Clash. He accompanied them throughout the UK and was an essential feature of their first three US campaigns. Meanwhile, between tours, he continued to play London concerts with stellar acts like Iggy Pop, Blondie, the Cramps and Black Uhuru.
Excited by how the punk sensibility had spread across the globe, combining with different local musical traditions to bring about fresh musical forms, in the new millennium he hooked up again with Joe Strummer, himself a great champion of the new global music. This opportunity provided Scratchy with the perfect arena to further develop his own fascination with both roots music and the contemporary and, thus, take The Rock and The Roll of The World back onto a larger stage.
Scratchy had bypassed so-called ‘DJ culture’ and remains to this day relatively and refreshingly beats-free. He is an unrepentant rebel rock’n’roller. That is the spirit which he still seeks today, in the music of the wider world.
Nowadays, it is not unusual to hear Selectah Scratchy segue from the honking horns of the Skatalites into the pumping brass of Fanfare Ciocarlia. The frantic sounds of New Orleans’ Zydepunks might give way to some classic cajun, whilst the loping bass and accordion stabs of a Colombian cumbia may hand over to Mano Negra’s jumped-up mestizo-punk. One thing is for sure, his mixes are unique. They are neither predictable nor are they one-dimensional. No two sets are alike. In pushing his audience, Scratchy is always pushing himself. Scratchy passionately believes that whilst being there to entertain, his role can also be to open minds whilst, of course, having fun.
He continues to look forward whilst also delving into the past and plays to wild and enthusiastic crowds in clubs and at major festivals from Sziget to Glastonbury, across Europe and beyond, stretching across the globe from Japan to Brazil. Since being back on the road with Joe Strummer’s Mescaleros, Scratchy has also teamed up with the Pogues, played at home and abroad with the Dead Brothers, covered Europe with Groundation and, throughout 2006 & 2007, he toured extensively with Gogol Bordello.
In 2004, he compiled the highly praised Scratchy Sounds: Ska, Dub, Roots and Reggae Nuggets on Trojan and was also invited by Piranha Records in 2007 to select the tracks for one of their downloadable Jubilee releases, Rockin’ the Barricades.
Ever with a sharp eye and a highly-tuned ear for emerging talent, he would often work in conjunction with London combo, The Urban Voodoo Machine, for the best part of a decade commencing in 2005. Scratchy has also been resident DJ of London’s hot monthly club night, the Gypsy Hotel since its inception in 2006. Late in 2015, he also began to focus on his own 40 Year Jubilee .
Always seeking fresh outlets and audiences that are ready to party and be amazed, in 2008, Scratchy added to his long list of triumphs by shaking clubs from the Boulevard in Rimini to the Scala in London. He rattled festival tents and stages from Rock for People and Trutnov in the Czech Republic to the Wig-On Casino at the UK’s Endorse-It and he rolled ships from le Bateau Geneve in Switzerland to la Dame de Canton in Paris. Scratchy showcased at Popkomm 2008.
2009 saw Scratchy captivate audiences at le Festival des Giboulees, the United Islands of Prague and the Gypsy Hotel special at the Hackney Empire. As the end of the first decade of the millenium approached, on The Bring On 2010 Tour, Scratchy debuted in Athens and Zaragoza, returned to Barcelona for the first time in his own right since playing there with Gogol and premiered in Tirana, Albania and Cosenza, Italy. He entered the new decade in the company of The Urban Voodoo Machine at the The Gypsy Hotel.
In 2010, Scratchy continued his London residencies at the Gypsy Hotel and Big Chill Sundae, as well as establishing a new monthly night, Good Time Religion at Camino Cruz Del Rey. He has guested at the rock'n'roll & rhythm'n'blues night Big Ten Inch and made his first visits to Ukraine to play in Kiev and at the Stare Misto Festival in Lviv alongside Goran Bregovic and The Urban Voodoo Machine. In July he made a two night appearance at Colours of Ostrava.
August saw a series of glorious returns as Scratchy played on Le Bateau Geneve and at the Endorse It and Trutnov festivals, all for a third successive year. He was also back at Sziget for the first time since he debuted there in 2006, with a series of shows over the course of the week.
In October 2010, Scratchy showcased at WOMEX10. In November Scratchy was back in Greece, not only returning to Athens but also playing in Komotini and Thessaloniki. He saw out the year with gigs in London, Berlin, Paris and Geneva, culminating in the traditional Gypsy Hotel New Year's Eve Party.
The mission continued unabated in 2011, playing with Mama Rosin, whose music he has supported since seeing a nascent version of the band open up for The Dead Brothers at the launch of their Wunderkammer album, visiting Bologna for Irlanda in Festa and running riot across the dancefloors of the World Village Festival in Helsinki and at the World Day Festival, his debut in Tallinn, Estonia.
In July, the 35th anniversary of that notable Dingwalls Ramones gig coincided with the 200th programme of Scratchy Sounds, his radio show on wirelessfm. Scratchy marked this double cause for celebration with a special broadcast of the kind of music that had been on his decks in the five-year period from 1976, spanning the days from that memorable night to the very first radio series of Scratchy Sounds in ‘80/’81. It also launched the Globalista Rhythms and The Universal Blues World Tour 2011/12 which took Scratchy up to and beyond his sixtieth birthday in September 2012. That same July, he also revisited the seventies punky reggae rock’n’roll mood, joining his old compadre Johnny Green along with Chuck Prophet & Spanish Bombs on a night of London Calling.
That August, Scratchy was again back at both Sziget and Trutnov. September took him to Rome and in October he played the Far East for the first time with two shows at The Ulsan World Music Festival in Korea and then realized a long held dream, jumping on to Japan to appear at Asagiri Jam in the foothills of Mt.Fuji before hitting Tokyo.
Scratchy continued to be active on the recording front, contributing two dub mixes for the album Re:Plugged – Remixes of Jaune Toujours & Mec Yek and in March 2011, releasing the album Gypsy Hotel: Bourbon Soaked, Snake Charmin’, Rock’n’Roll Cabaret Vol.1 with some of the finest bands to have played live or been featured on the Gypsy Hotel decks as selected by Scratchy and the club’s host & booker Paul-Ronney Angel.
2012 saw The Treble Top Tour, a celebration of Scratchy’s sixty years rockin’ on the planet, with dates in Hungary, Italy, Paris and Berlin. The tour also paid a particular nod of respect and remembrance to Joe Strummer, who’s own sixtieth birthday was noted at The Strummer of Love Festival in August, where Scratchy linked the bands on the main stage on the final day.
Earlier in the year, he had been in Canada to play each night throughout the 3-day weekend of the annual tribute to Joe in Hamilton, Ontario. In November of 2012, Scratchy kept the night ticking over between the bands for Arms Aloft in Acton Town in November, just as he had done 10 years earlier when Strummer, the Mescaleros and himself had participated in the Fire Brigade Union support gig, as part of the Bringing It All Back Home Tour, a short month before Joe passed on. And to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Joe’s death, Scratchy was in France, on the eve of that occasion, to play a special DJ set in Paris back at L’Alimentation Generale, travelling to Angers the following day, December 22nd, for a tribute event, Strummer’s Xmas Party, in front of a packed 700-strong crowd.
The Treble Top Tour of 2012 also took in a spellbinding return to Japan, playing at Fuji Rock, touring with Argentinian/Puerto Rican legends Mimi Maura, rounding off with his own showcase night back in Tokyo. To celebrate turning sixty himself, at the September Gypsy Hotel, Scratchy fronted a band made up of some of his buddies from The Urban Voodoo Machine as 60 Scratch, playing a set of garage, rockabilly and reggae tunes, specially selected by the Selectah himself, for the occasion.
2013 got underway with more firsts, kicking off in South America delivering a conference talk, When Worlds Collide, and putting on a rousing performance to a packed cobbled square at the start of carnival, in old town Recife in Brazil for Porto Musicale. Shortly after, steps were made towards Africa, playing the Kriol Jazz Festival in Praia, Cape Verde. In the summer came the storming 11-11 Tour, eleven dates in eleven days, Scratchy’s solo tour of Japan that included a couple of shows with LA’s Very Be Careful and a trio of sets at Fuji Rock, including the vinyl-only Jim’s Vinylnasium, climaxing back on the Crystal Palace Stage, for a second successive year.
Highlights of 2014 included Scratchy in New York and in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Italy with the stunning Spartacus Ampitheatre as backdrop, whilst the likes of regular haunt L’Alimentation Generale in Paris and a sixth year out of seven, at the Trutnov Festival, now renamed Trutnoff, alongside headliners Patti Smith and Tinariwen, brightened up the summer. Throughout the year, Scratchy also cemented a return to the specialist vinyl sets he had been gradually building over the previous few years, with a monthly residency down in the basement, Underdog@BrewdogShoreditch, presenting five hours of non-stop, stompin’ Roots Rockin’ Rhythms and Blues.
2014 spectacularly became 2015 in front of up to 30,000 people in the Piazza Maggiore, Bologna. Scratchy was back in Italy in both Bologna and Padova for Irlanda in Festa, as well as making a much-lauded first showing at the Ariano Folkfestival later in the year. Scratchy was also invited back to Hamilton, Ontario to once again feature in their annual Joe Strummer tribute. It also provided the opportunity to hook up with The Slackers, who were ending their current tour in Toronto and Ottowa and continue on with the band’s Vic Ruggiero for the Vic’n’Scratchy Show tour of Eastern Canada. He also packed a bag of 45s and made a trip to Oslo to join the 20th anniversary celebration for Los Plantronics.
Kicking off with his fourth tour of Japan in December of 2015, 40 Years Of Scratchy Sounds celebrated the glorious mix of electrifying music that Scratchy has brought together over the four decades since he began to make his mark on the decks of London’s club scene during the mid 1970s.
In the years since, Scratchy has extended his global reach to places like China, Colombia, Reunion Island, Turkey and South Africa, as well as revisiting Ariano twice, playing a couple of times in Santiago de Compostela and making it to Korea for a second time to perform at the Seoul Music Week. Twice he's been a special guest of the renown rhythm'n'soul vinyl jock, Jonathan Toubin and toured in conjunction with two other top US vinyl spinners, Drew Redmond and Rob Macy. March 2017 & 2019, during the famed cherry blossom season of Hanami, Scratchy hit the shores of Japan for a fifth and sixth tour.
Scratchy has been hailed as a Music Shaman. Whether on his internet Scratchy Sounds radio shows, or in the flesh, Scratchy’s legendary and vibrant selections will delight, make you want to dance to some of the greatest music on the planet and take you places where others fear to tread.
Scratchy Sounds: Ska, Dub, Roots & Reggae Nuggets, double CD on Trojan
Piranha Jubilee Vol.7: Rockin' the Barricades, download only.
Re:Plugged: Remixes of Jaune Toujours & Mec Yek incl. two Scratchy Dubs on Choux de Bruxelles)
Gypsy Hotel: Bourbon Soaked, Snake Charmin', Rock'n'Roll Cabaret Vol.1.
Scratchy is renown for his constantly shifting and never predictable, Rockin', Roma, Dubbed-Up, Mestizo mixes which take a voyage through the soundscapes of London to Louisiana, Kingston to Colombia, Bucharest to Bollywood.
Scratchy is also available for nights of Ska, Dub & Roots Reggae Nuggets, Back In The Garage sets that take the 50s and 60s Rockin & Soulful Rhythm & Blues as their launch pad, or any combination of all the vital elements that make up The Rock and The Roll of The World.
Whilst he packs a broad and deep travelling collection of CDs for sets that cover all aspects of The Rock and The Roll of The World, whether in its entirety, or homing in on the different specialist areas contained within, Scratchy also spins off vinyl for nights of Roots Rockin’ Rhythms & Blues, the music that lies at the heart, the very foundation of all those Scratchy Sounds.
The Rock and The Roll of The World,
Globalista Rhythms and The Universal Blues.