Shaggy: ‘I’d like to think that the Queen is a big Shaggy fan’

The singer, 51, on his royal following, firing howitzers in the Marine Corps and why Boris needs a spliff

I’ve never directly killed anybody. Indirectly, probably [when he was in the US Marine Corps]. I fired a 155 howitzer, this big gun on wheels. You’re just given a quadrant and a deflection – and something blows up. During the first Gulf War we passed a lot of destruction and bodies in Iraq. That was intense.

I’m very spiritual. I think there is someone who created what mankind cannot. The world is so beautiful, but man had nothing to do with it. God is great. He’s in charge. In this whole Covid-19 situation, it’s time to realise that we are not in charge. Trump ain’t in charge. Boris ain’t in charge. Forget borders. Covid needs no passport or visa.

I have a close relationship with Sting, but he’s not really a phone guy. He prefers email. None of his email addresses say “Sting”. You just get these random emails and have to work out you’re talking to him.

I’d like to think that the Queen is a big Shaggy fan. I played at her 92nd birthday party at the Royal Albert Hall. Afterwards I was standing right beside her. It would have been crazy if she was like, “Hello, Mr Boombastic.”

When Prince Harry came to Jamaica he came to visit the Bustamante Hospital for Children. My daughter thought he was supposed to be a prince on a horse, like in her storybook. He turned to me and said, “Wow, she’s just so not impressed,” and then he sang, It Wasn’t Me. So Prince Harry is a Shaggy fan!

I’m not a big weed smoker. I’m more into cigars. I just don’t like the smoke in my lungs. Do you see any violent weed smokers? Most avid weed smokers just look like they are half-asleep and get the munchies. Imagine if every single world leader smoked weed, how calm would they be? Boris needs a spliff. Trump needs to go and hang out with the Rastafarians in Jamaica to come down off that high horse.

I’m a Commander of the Order of Distinction [a national order in the Jamaican honours system]. You just get some extra letters behind your name, so I’m Richard Orville Burrell CD. It doesn’t come with anything else. I said to the Governor General, “Do I get a parking space?”

My wife calls me Orville, or Orv when she’s in a good mood. When she’s in a bad mood, she calls me other names I can’t repeat.

I used to hate being called Shaggy. I grew up in the ghettos of Rae Town in Kingston. I was this skinny guy with really shaggy hair. I remember when I first came to England, I was in this cab and my song Oh Carolina came on the radio. The cab driver went, “I can’t believe they’re playing a bloke called Shaggy on Radio 1.” I was like, “What’s wrong with Shaggy?” Then Austin Powers came out and the whole world knew what “shag” meant. I was like, “Dude! I’ve got the coolest name in the business.”

Shaggy’s new album, Hot Shot, is out now


Rich Pelley

The GuardianTramp

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