Morrissey speaks to Larry King about cancer, depression and Barack Obama

In a rare in-depth interview, former Smiths frontman criticises US president over reaction to Ferguson civil unrest, saying he believes he is ‘white inside’

Morrissey doesn’t do many interviews, but when he does he’s not shy about opening up. Speaking to Larry King, the musician discussed his cancer diagnosis, his ongoing battle with depression, the alleged sexual assault against him at a US airport and why he believes Barack Obama is “white inside”, in what has been billed as his first in-depth interview in a decade.

Morrissey appears as a guest in the latest episode of Larry King Now, airing on Ora TV on Wednesday. In preview clips available on YouTube, the former Smiths frontman covered the following topics:

On allegedly being groped by an airport security guard

In July, Morrissey posted a statement to the fan site True To You claiming he was sexually assaulted by an airport security guard who he alleged groped his penis as he prepared to board a flight to London at San Francisco International airport. He said he filed a sexual assault complaint, but a spokesman for the Transport Security Administration (TSA) said security camera footage confirmed nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

“Would you like the absolute details? They’re horrific,” Morrissey told King. “He put his finger down my rear cleavage. I had been through the full scanner and the second bit and everything was fine and clear, but then he went straight for my private bits and then he put his finger down my rear cleavage.

“The people I was with from special services said this is assault and he said: ‘Well that’s just your opinion.’ They’re above the law. Yes, I filled out a complaints thing, but nothing happened.”

On his cancer diagnosis

Last October, Morrissey, 56, revealed he was previously treated for cancer, saying: “If I die, then I die. And if I don’t, then I don’t.” The singer has been hospitalised a number of times over the years with a string of live dates cancelled due to ill health.

He told King: “Barrett’s cancer, it’s in the oesophagus. They scrape it occasionally and I have medication, but I’m OK. Lots of people have it and they fade away, lots of people have it and they don’t fade away.”

He added of his initial reaction: “You don’t really hear that word, that c-word. It seems to drift over you – you just say: ‘Yes, oh yes.’ Later when you’re on the stairs by yourself, it triggers in your mind. At the time, you don’t hear it.”

Asked by King if he would say he’s in good health today, he responded: “Blooming.”

On his depression

In previous interviews, Morrissey has revealed he was diagnosed with depression at a young age. He first took antidepressants when he was 17 and has had therapy intermittently since then.

“For me, it never gets better,” he told King. “I’ve had it for many years. I refer to it as the ‘black dog’. It doesn’t go away. It’s usually the very first thing when you wake up, there is no cure, and I think it’s part of being a sensitive, open human.

“I don’t [take medication], I’ve been through everything, it’s pointless. It’s a frame of mind, a state of mind, it’s circumstantial.”

The singer said he has never attempted suicide but that “everybody thinks about it”. He added: “Even people who mistakenly assume they are happy [think about suicide].”

On Barack Obama

Referring to recent civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, which began after the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a white police officer, Morrissey said Barack Obama had “disappointed lots of people” because of his insistence that the police are always right.

He said: “I don’t think with places like Ferguson and so on that [Obama has] really helped his own people by being more interested in forgetting about the police machinery and constantly saying ‘the police are always right’, ‘we must listen to the police’, when everybody knows that’s not true.

“So is Obama, is he white inside? That’s a very logical question, but I think he probably is.”

Morrissey also backed the Democrat Hillary Clinton for the next presidency. “When you look at the Republicans who have lined up, it’s ludicrous. They all look exactly the same. It’s the same old suit and tie. You never see somebody who is absolutely interesting,” he said.

The singer closed the interview with a performance of Kiss Me a Lot from his latest album, World Peace is None of Your Business.


Nadia Khomami

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Morrissey reveals series of cancer treatments: 'If I die, then I die'
In a recent interview, the singer has described how doctors had ‘scraped cancerous tissues’ four times amid lengthy spell of ill health, writes Sean Michaels

Sean Michaels

07, Oct, 2014 @11:10 AM

Article image
Bigmouth strikes again and again: why Morrissey fans feel so betrayed
Once his songs of loneliness and shyness made him a hero to misfits and outsiders. Yet now he is voicing his support for a far-right party

Tim Jonze

30, May, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
Morrissey – review

As rioting grips the capital, Morrissey ends his UK tour with Smiths classics, a Lou Reed cover... but no 'Panic', writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

13, Aug, 2011 @11:05 PM

Article image
Morrissey: Obama is doing nothing for US black community
Singer tells The Daily Beast that Obama ‘doesn’t look overly African black’, and offers equal ire at Republican presidential candidates

Guardian music

27, Aug, 2015 @8:51 AM

Article image
Autobiography by Morrissey – digested read
John Crace reduces the much-hyped reminiscences of the Smiths singer and tortured vegetarian enigma to an intensely poetic 600 words

John Crace

20, Oct, 2013 @6:00 PM

Article image
Morrissey 25: Live – review

A film marking 25 years of Morrissey's solo career with an intimate concert at the Hollywood High School will delight fans, writes Philip French

Philip French

24, Aug, 2013 @11:03 PM

Article image
Autobiography by Morrissey – review

This book is superb: Mozzer is so devastatingly articulate he could win the Booker, argues Terry Eagleton

Terry Eagleton

13, Nov, 2013 @12:00 PM

Article image
Pop-up shoppers of the world unite as Morrissey store opens in New York
Fans stock up on T-shirts and dog bandannas before eagerly awaited Brooklyn gig as Mporium, last seen in Manchester, raises funds for animal shelter

Adam Gabbatt in New York

24, Sep, 2016 @7:29 PM

Article image
Morrissey diagnosed with bleeding ulcer

The singer has been forced to cancel six concerts in his US tour, but is expected to make a full recovery

Sean Michaels

28, Jan, 2013 @12:09 PM

Article image
Is Morrissey a national treasure?
The singer is in trouble for backing Argentina's claims to the Falklands. Music writer Peter Paphides and cultural critic Sukhdev Sandhu debate whether he still deserves Britain's affection

Peter Paphides and Sukhdev Sandhu

10, Mar, 2012 @6:05 PM