Lee 'Scratch' Perry: ‘My pants are telepathic. Everything I wear is telepathic’

The musician, 82, on dreaming up songs, giving up drink and teaching Bob Marley how to be happy

I don’t know where my songs come from. I dream them. My first musical memory is a song called Don’t Give the Old for the New. I didn’t hear it on the radio. I heard it in my head when I was little. Then I wrote it. Music is my rain. Music is my name. I’m a dreamer.

Living in Switzerland is the high life. Riches and fucking and fame. I feel like Merlin the Magician. There is magic here everywhere. I live here to avoid vampires. I live here to avoid poverty. I don’t like poverty.

The secret to a long and happy life is a belief in God. I believe in God. I believe in life. I believe in hearing. I believe in smelling. I believe in tasting. I believe in writing. I believe in singing. I believe in my larder. I believe in my garden. I believe in my good feelings. And don’t eat meat. Amen.

Giving up alcohol was very hard. I didn’t think I could create what I made without it. Then I realised that it was inside of me. Alcohol was hypnotising me. It was making me unconscious. It was making me bleed. Alcohol is evil. Stupid sugar sugar.

My favourite items of clothing are my telepathic clothes. My socks are telepathic. My pants are telepathic. Everything I wear is telepathic! I have a cap that I like a lot. It gives me my telepathic power.

Me and Bob Marley were a good match. He came to me. His cup was overflowing. He didn’t know what to do. I think I taught him how to be happy. That showed him what to do. He was like a beautiful kid – but he was a bit nasally [sings Bob Marley songs while holding his nose]. He was like a beautiful long- nosed newt.

We solve racism by showing each other who we are. We have too much in common to not be united. We are more than our colour. I am black and white and pink and yellow.

I continue to be inspired by my soul.

The world première of Rudeboy: the Story of Trojan Records is at the BFI London Film Festival on 12 October

Contributor

James McMahon

The GuardianTramp

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