Whatever you might think about his brand of comedy, Ricky Gervais normally delivers a stellar soundtrack, much of it steeped in the glory years of 1970s rock. Cemetery Junction namechecked Mott The Hoople and Elton John, Extras was awash with Davie Bowie, and lest we forget how beautifully The Office utilised ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ during the opening and closing credits.
Currently enjoying a new creative wind with After Life, Gervais enjoys dipping his toe into a wide variety of genres, each more inexplicable than the last. What he could do in the future is start his own music show, and use it to exhibit some of his more idiosyncratic favourites.
As it happens, Gervais started off as a music promoter and is rumoured to have introduced drummer Simon Gilbert to Suede, although the details of that meeting remain somewhat mysterious. As a younger man, he fronted synth pop duo Seona Dancing, and although success eluded them, ‘Bitter Heart’ holds a strangely impressive vocal.
Music, especially rock music, holds a place in his heart, so it was only natural that someone would ask him about his first time entering a record shop. In an interview with BBC Sounds, Gervais talked about his upbringing in Reading and his search for a vinyl store. Eventually, he came across his shangri-la. “It was like lava lamps,” Gervais recalled. “And people with hair and beards, and all that”.
His eye took a fancy to a black lightbulb, and brought it home with him, which infuriated his mother. Laughing into the microphone, Gervais recalled how his mother berated him because of the absence of clear light, but eventually he acquiesced when she told him “there might be spiders up there”.
Gervais comes across well in the interview, especially when he talks about his home life. It’s common for British and Irish artists to knock their hometowns once they leave for more metropolitan havens. As it happens, Gervais seems happy with his lot in life.
Below is an example of Gervais singing in what is a classic tale of what could have been.