Q&A: Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

‘The last time I had a spliff it knocked me out for a day, a night and another day’, Perry tells the Guardian.

Lee “Scratch” Perry, 75, was born in Jamaica. In 1968 he formed a label, Upsetter Records, to record his own music; his first single was People Funny Boy. In 1969, he had his first British hit with Return Of Django. The same year he began to produce Bob Marley & The Wailers, beginning a long association that led to the popularisation of reggae and dub music. Perry went on to work with the Clash, Paul McCartney and the Beastie Boys. In 2003, he won a Grammy award for Best Reggae Album for his record Jamaican ET. He is the special guest at this weekend’s We, The People festival in Bristol. He is married for the second time, and lives in Switzerland.

When were you happiest?
When I wake in the morning and go to the bathroom and go pee pee.

Which living person do you most admire?

What was your most embarrassing moment?
The most embarrassing moment anyone can have is when you run out of cash and have to ask for a loan. That happened to me in Jamaica 25 years ago. That’s why I left.

What is your most treasured possession?
My music.

Where would you like to live?
I believe in Hell and Heaven. I’d prefer to live in Heaven than in Hell.

What would your super power be?
I’d fly from my enemies and turn invisible so they can’t see me.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
All the fishes in the sea, all the birds in the air and all the animals in the jungle.

Cat or dog?
One day I had some birds in my house – I think birds are angels – and the cat ate one. I don’t like cats any more.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Angels showed me how to live and what to eat, not to drink alcohol, not to smoke. Now I eat marijuana: I make curry and tea with it. If I had carried on drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, I am sure I would not be talking to you now.

What is your favourite smell?
Cherry blossom and Chanel No 5.

What would you most like to wear to a costume party?
A George V gown, boots and crown.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?God. God sees everything we do.

What was the best kiss of your life?
I refuse to kiss human beings as I am scared of getting a virus from things people eat. I prefer to kiss a tree, a rose, a bird or an animal. I used to kiss my cat until the cat ate my bird.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
I have a very nagging wife.

When did you last cry, and why?
When my mother died.

How often do you have sex?
My needs is not dead and my thing is still alive.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
The last time I had a spliff, I made an extra big one and it knocked me out for a day, a night and another day.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
I don’t think I will have a funeral but if I do, the song I would like to hear is my first hit, People Funny Boy.

Where would you most like to be right now?
In Buckingham Palace, on the throne with the Queen’s crown on my head.

Tell us a secret
Before I was a human being, I used to be a kingfish.

For the original interview go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jun/04/lee-scratch-perry-interview

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