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


James McMahon

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Dennis Bovell: ‘I’m still angry about the six months I was jailed, wrongfully’
The reggae musician and producer, 68, tells James McMahon about Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson, police intimidation, impressing his dad and writing songs in prison to vent his anger

James McMahon

06, Nov, 2021 @2:00 PM

Article image
Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Jazz Cafe, London

Jazz Cafe, London

Alexis Petridis

25, Mar, 2003 @12:05 PM

Lee 'Scratch' Perry, The Jazz Cafe, London

The Jazz Cafe, London

Kevin Le Gendre

14, Jan, 2008 @11:41 PM

Article image
Edwyn Collins: ‘Everything changed when my stroke happened’
The singer, 59, tells James McMahon about his angry youth, the joy of being alive, his new record and birdwatching all day

James McMahon

04, May, 2019 @1:00 PM

Article image
Suzi Quatro: ‘I’ll never be too old to wear a jumpsuit’
The singer, 71, tells Samantha Rea about enjoying her grandchildren, missing her mum, giving everything on stage and her need for an Ego Room

Samantha Rea

24, Jul, 2021 @1:00 PM

CD: Lee Scratch Perry, The Mighty Upsetter

The reggae legend is in nostalgia mode for his first album in years

Steve Yates

09, Nov, 2008 @12:01 AM

Article image
Those we lost in 2021: Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry remembered by Neil ‘Mad Professor’ Fraser
The British dub artist recalls the craft and eccentricity of the pioneering reggae producer

12, Dec, 2021 @7:00 PM

Article image
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry: Rainford review – ghost of dub past
(On-U Sound)

Damien Morris

02, Jun, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Grayson Perry: 'I’m an unapologetic fetishist'
The artist, 58, on art, road rage, teddy bears and his mum’s affair with the milkman

Ruth Huntman

13, Oct, 2018 @1:00 PM

Article image
CD: Lee 'Scratch' Perry: Alien Starman

1 star (Secret)

Dorian Lynskey

20, Jun, 2003 @1:26 AM