Stray Cat

updated 02/26/2001 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/2001 01:00AM

Shaggy, the Jamaican reggae singer, was at a pre-Super Bowl party in Tampa last month when a female fan held up a sign announcing: Shaggy, I'm Pregnant. "That was pretty weird," he says. "I didn't know who the hell she was."

A more apt response might have been "It Wasn't Me." That, of course, is the 32-year-old singer's hit single (No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after two weeks at No. 1) about a guy whose girlfriend catches him cheating with their next-door neighbor. "It is a tongue-in-cheek take on relationships," he says of the song that has been a radio mainstay since July. And no, its lying lothario isn't Shaggy. "He can fall in love in 20 seconds," says his friend Paul Lee. "But he is not one of those guys who plays the field."

In fact, Shaggy has two sons, Ritchie, 5, and Tyler, 3, by ex-girl-friend Carol Johnson, with whom, he says, he remains "good friends." His first love, though, is his music. Born Orville Richard Burrell in Kingston, Jamaica (and nicknamed Shaggy, he says, because "my hair was wild"), he was raised by his single mother, Veronica Miller, now 52, a medical secretary who moved her son to the U.S. when he was 17. "I am not that close," he says, to his father, Clinton Burrell, a mason. A self-described "very shy student" at Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School, Shaggy got popular as a dance-hall deejay. Then, after four years in the Marines, he scored a hit with his 1993 debut album, Pure Pleasure. This summer he'll tour with the Backstreet Boys and Destiny's Child. But he still has a home in Jamaica, where the locals don't "have that starstruck thing," he says. "Instead they say, 'Oh yeah, that's Shaggy, all right, cool.' "

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