The Office’s Ricky Gervais unrecognisable in photographs from ‘failed pop star attempt’

Ricky Gervais says late parents didn't get to enjoy his success

The comedian, 59, is best-known for his TV sitcoms including The Office, Extras and After Life but before his small screen fame he had a stint as a musician. Far from his unforgettable performance of Free Love Freeway as David Brent on the BBC show, Gervais tried to emulate the likes of Cat Stevens. Recently, the star reflected on his dreams and unearthed pictures reveal him in a totally different light. 

Gervais admitted that his “first love was science, learning and having a laugh” but soon after music “dominated everything for a while”.

He was 14 years old when he bought his first guitar, which he struggled to play due to his “soft hands” and would regularly vent his frustration in expletive-filled outbursts. 

The former Golden Globes host said: “I was so annoyed… I would hit the guitar, ‘For f*** sake!’ like that and hold it down again… the more you held it down the more your fingers hurt.

“So I had six months of that and then I could sort of play, again it’s no revelation that if you try your hardest at something you’ll probably get good at it.”  

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Inspired by the “beautiful folk” lyrics, as well as Cat Stevens and Simon & Garfunkel, Gervais set about penning his own musical masterpieces but admitted he fell short. 

He recalled: “It was a very sort of secret pursuit, I don’t think I even played to anyone because I knew I wasn’t good enough and the songs weren’t good enough.”

Gervais admitted that he was too embarrassed to perform at first but later, during his time at University College London he formed a band with his friend Bill Macrae. 

They were called Seona Dancing and after creating a 16-song demo tape were signed by London Records. 

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Photographs from that time showed Gervais with a gelled quiff and Mr Macrae sporting long spiky locks – sometimes dressed in suits and other times in more casual attire. 

The promotional images, which were taken in 1983, showed the comedian in a short-sleeved shirt with an oversized scarf wrapped around him.

Gervais pulled a number of serious poses for those shots, which were taken in front of a tie-dye-esque blue and white background.

Two of the keyboard pop duo’s singles were released, Bitter Heart and More to Lose, but neither of them managed to break the UK Top 40 Singles Chart.

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Seona Dancing soon vanished but their song More to Lose became a huge hit in the Philippines and was reported to have been a “teen anthem”. 

Gervais reflected on his time as a “pop star” during an interview on the Stuff of Legends podcast last month.

He claimed their success was “beginner’s luck” and while they released “a few songs”, they only performed live once at the Camden Palace, now known as KOKO. 

Gervais continued: “But again, it was all over as quickly as it started, I think that whole thing was two singles and we were out.

“I realised in retrospect when it went away that my mistake was that I should have wanted to be a musician not a popstar.”

He revealed that the experience changed his perception of fame, which led him to write The Office.

Gervais said: “Then when I came to do this, the second bite of the cherry so to speak, I knew that I wanted to be a writer-director.

“I didn’t just want to be a celebrity, the word still embarasses me, I still say I’m not because I think it’s charged with something else.

“I know I’m a known-person, I know I’m a famous person but I’m famous for something and the word celebrity still embarrasses me.”

Ricky Geravis appeared on The Stuff of Legends with Chris O’Connell on November 1 and is available to listen to here.

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