Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

How David Bowie influenced my life and work by Ricky Gervais


This article was first published in November 2010

How David Bowie influenced my life and work. By Ricky Gervais.

I was born in the Sixties in Battle Hospital, Reading. I grew up in a working-class council estate and went to the local comprehensive. I was a skinny kid, with long hair, fangs and preferred art to football. I had no role model I could identify with. And then I discovered David Bowie. I wore him like a badge of honour. As it turned out, I’d backed the most important creative force in British rock since Lennon and McCartney.

So I learned to play guitar, discovered I could sing, dyed my hair, wore stupid clothes, joined a band, got a record deal, released a couple of singles, got dropped from the record company, dyed my hair, wore more stupid clothes, didn’t get a record deal, gave up, got a job in an office, got fat, wore comfortable clothes, got a sensible hair cut, managed a band that reminded me of David Bowie, went to work for a radio station, met Steve Merchant, wrote a sitcom about the office I used to work in, became friends with David Bowie, wrote a song with him, acted opposite him, did interviews with him, performed on stage with him, got thinner, wrote this article about him. So a lot changed since I first discovered David Bowie but two things remained unaltered. 1) He has been my favourite artist for 35 years and I still wear that badge. And 2) My teeth. He got his fixed. What a sell-out.

The first time I met David, by the way, was at the BBC. The first series of The Office had just aired and I was invited to a special performance at TV Centre. Afterwards, in the green room, the then director general, Greg Dyke bounced over to me and Jane [Fallon, Gervais’s long-term partner] and said, “Do you wanna meet him?” I said “Oh, I don’t want to pester him.” He said, “No, come on.” He then shouted “Salman! We’re gonna say hello to David.” So there we were, with the head honcho at the Beeb and Salman Rushdie, chatting to Bowie in his dressing room. The next day I was in the pub with a mate and he said, “What did you do yesterday?” and I said, “Uh... Nothing. Just stayed in.” It seemed too weird to tell the truth.

A few years later I emailed David on his 57th birthday. It read: “57???? Isn’t it about time you got a proper job? Ricky Gervais, 42, Comedian.” He replied: “I have a proper job. David Bowie, 57, Rock God.”

I’d say that’s pretty on the money.

(Images: Rex Features)




Who said it: Donald Trump or David Brent?


The 20 albums you need to hear in 2016


Music legend David Bowie dies at the age of 69


The ShortListen: David Bowie (no. 223)


Who said it: Kanye West or David Brent?


20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About The Office



The first Glastonbury headliner has been announced

And it's an old favourite

by Dave Fawbert
20 Oct 2016

Tom Cruise acted out his entire career with James Corden

A few good men who have all the right moves

by Tom Fordy
20 Oct 2016

A forensic analysis of Liam and Noel Gallagher’s ongoing feud

A timeline of the best brotherly insults of all time

by Jamie Carson
20 Oct 2016

A love letter to Red Dead Redemption

As the sequel is announced, we look back at what made the first so dang powerful...

by Sam Diss
19 Oct 2016

Your first look at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Why can't it be May already?

19 Oct 2016

Luis Suarez talks English football and the toughest PL defenders

He's a lover, not a biter

19 Oct 2016

A conversation with Slaves about anger

Ahead of our first gig in association with Lynx, we sat down with Laurie & Isaac

19 Oct 2016

Benedict Cumberbatch on life in a monastery and hitting walls

Benedict Cumberbatch tells us why he decided to finally don a cape

by Chris Mandle
19 Oct 2016

Gary Lineker talks crisps, Rooney and "Sh*t on pitch"

Crisp don Gary Lineker reminisces about the time Diego Maradona nearly fell off a balcony

by Alex Christian
19 Oct 2016

Oasis rejected Trainspotting for this hilarious reason

You've gotta roll(ing stock) with it

19 Oct 2016