Soundtrack of my life: Bobby Gillespie

The Primal Scream star tells Will Hodgkinson about the respect he has for Johnny Rotten and why he mobbed Link Wray

The record that made me form a band: Never Mind the Bollocks, The Sex Pistols (1977)

It was Johnny Rotten who made me want to be in a band. Rotten was opinionated, intelligent, working class... he said the things I felt. You would look at adults and think, 'They're all acting.' Rotten was ripping through the cinema screen of a fake reality. It sounds pretentious, I know, but his version of reality made sense to me. He had a poetic anger. The first time I saw Jamie Reid's Sex Pistols poster of the Queen with her eyes ripped out, I thought, 'My God, somebody hates those bastards as much as I do.' I was transfixed.

When I joined the Jesus and Mary Chain: I Never Loved Her, The Starfires (1965)

In 1983 this guy in Glasgow sent me a tape with four songs on one side: 'Inside Me', 'Never Understand', 'In a Hole' and 'Upside Down', all by the Jesus and Mary Chain. I was like, 'Where the fuck is this coming from? It's incredible.' There was a number on the tape, and it was for [bass player] Douglas Hart's mum's house. Douglas then sent me another tape with 'I Never Loved Her' on it. I love it. But my favourite band of that era is the Chocolate Watchband, who sound like the Rolling Stones added to a nuclear bomb. I love the energy of those garage bands.

When we formed Primal Scream: Signed DC, Love (1966)

We were obsessed by Love. Forever Changes is very elegant, but very dark - maybe LA has always been an evil place and [lead singer] Arthur Lee picked up on that before anyone else. Like Johnny Rotten, he could see beyond the version of reality sold to us and could describe things as they are in poetic terms. There's a malevolence to Arthur Lee that I love, and 'Signed DC' is one of his heaviest songs. We hung out with him at the Chateau Marmont in LA one night. He taught me to play 'Signed DC' around the pool. That was in 1993, before he went to jail.

When I first went to LA: Bubble Gum, Kim Fowley (1968)

Kim Fowley came backstage after our first time in LA and told us stories of managing the Runaways, of leaving love bites on Joan Jett's inner thigh when she was 15. He's a wild genius and this is one of my favourite songs, from the album Outrageous. It's a dirty, sleazy rock'n'roll record: he's obsessed with jailbait and is the kind of guy who could be the head of a cult if he hadn't chosen rock'n'roll. I don't think he ever took drugs; his drug was young women. Apparently 'Teenage Head' by the Flamin' Groovies is about Fowley. He's an outsider.

When I met my hero: Beans and Fatback, Link Wray (1973)

If I could play the guitar the way I'd like to, it would be in a style between Johnny Thunders and Link Wray. Both of them play reckless, dirty, sexy rock'n'roll. I saw Link play in London at the time Mani joined Primal Scream. He was doing all his hits, and we mobbed him afterwards because he blew our minds. He's known for his instrumentals that sound like being slashed by a switchblade, but Beans and Fatback is almost experimental. He's singing on it, too, which he doesn't on his early records. He only had one lung, but I love his voice.

Strange and possibly true

1 Bobby Gillespie named his second son Lux after Lux Interior, the singer of horror rockers the Cramps.

2 Gillespie attracted controversy during Primal Scream's set at the 2005 Glastonbury Festival for insulting the crowd with a Nazi salute. He later claimed he did it because a hippy stole his ale.

3 Though Gillespie once defaced a 'Make Poverty History' poster so that it read 'Make Israel History', he does not support Hamas. 'No,' he said in 2006, 'I support Celtic.'

4 He was a roadie for the Eighties band Altered Images and the drummer for the Jesus and Mary Chain before forming Primal Scream.

5 Gillespie owns a bow tie formerly owned by Johnny Thunders.

A new Primal Scream album is released in July. The band play T in the Park, Bestival and V Festival in the summer

Listen to this playlist on Spotify


Will Hodgkinson

The GuardianTramp

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