Ricky Gervais, the stand up comic and actor who is the brains behind hit shows like The Office, Derek and After Life, has been talking about some of the iconic musicians who have helped shaped his vision over the years.
Music has always been entrenched in Gervias’ work. Having started a life in entertainment as one half of 1980s British new wave band Seona Dancing, Gervais and his then bandmate Bill Macrae were later snapped up by London Records and the comedian was given his first taste of the limelight as a performer.
Despite the musical roots, even he could not have predicted that his next major musical performance would be as David Brent in The Office. But Gervais’ love for music was a deep-seated figure in the seminal comedy, even if Brent’s lyrics might not have represented that in the best way.
Gervais, a well-publicised atheist with a strong belief in science, once said: “Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence—evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded.”
He continued: “It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition.”
Given his stance, it seems only fitting that when Gervais revealed the five albums he has listened to the most throughout his life, that David Bowie, the Starman himself, is heavily represented. Bowie, whose music and persona was undoubtedly out of this world, was inducted into the science fiction hall of fame as his performance regularly included themes of the otherworldly across music and film.
In an interview with GQ, Gervais once said: “Heroes should be someone who saved your life, or a relative or someone who donated their kidney.” Pushed further by the interviewer to play along with the question, Gervais admitted that if he had to name any icon he could consider a ‘hero’ it would be David Bowie. “He sort of put my life in colour, in many ways,” he explained.
He added: “I knew David Bowie as a friend and I had to remember, that’s my hero.”
So when Gervais detailed his five albums, it should come as little surprise that two additions from Bowie made the cut. It might, however, raise a few eyebrows considering that both Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs are records chosen to represent him.
Elsewhere Neil Young’s Harvest makes the cut, as does Cat Stevens record Teaser and The Firecat. Top of the pile though? It’s Thom Yorke and Radiohead’s second studio album The Bends.
‘The first time I met him, I was sort of newly famous,” Gervais once said when remembering Bowie. “It was just after The Office had a break and I was invited to one of those VIP things at the BBC where Bowie played a few songs and then director-general Greg Dyke bounced over to me and said, ‘You are a huge Bowie fan, aren’t you?’ ‘Yeah, yeah.’ ‘You want to meet him?’
He added: “There is me and Greg Dyke going down to meet David Bowie. He opened the door and said hello Salman. He was having a snack. He didn’t know who I was.'”
“We became sort of pen pals and I invited him to do Extras and he said ‘yes’ which was amazing. That was the last TV appearance he did,” he recalled. Our relationship was bizarre and surreal, and I felt so privileged to know him. I never forgot he was my hero, even when he became my friend,” he later wrote for The Hollywood Reporter.
Below, enjoy a playlist of all five records.