David Bowie‘s legacy extends so much further than the music world. Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais has provided insight into a decade long friendship with the thin white duke, in an inspired piece for The Hollywood Reporter. Growing up in a working class England, Gervais idolised Bowie. It wasn’t until his show The Office became a hit, that their friendship began. Gervais’ essay is touching, and relatable for anyone who was effected by David Bowie- regardless of whether you knew him personally or not.
“After the show I saw the tweets and was trying to find out if it were a hoax — and it wasn’t. 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. I somehow divorced the two concepts in my head. When I talked to people, I talked about this rock star who changed my whole outlook. He put my life in color. He made me believe: You can do anything; you’re a working-class kid in Reading; creativity is freedom. Ability is a poor man’s wealth. I loved everything he did. He never let me down, even at the end. I’ve never seen a more dignified ending.
I was looking at an email he sent me a few weeks ago. It was as funny and fresh and smart as any in the last 10 years I knew him. That’s integrity. That’s fucking privacy. All this about being one of the most worshipped artists in the world — he never fell for it. I remember the first time I went to see him, I didn’t know what to say. “You’re here for Mr. Jones?” I smiled — of course I was. Right then, David Bowie didn’t exist. His apartment was as amazing as you’d imagine. There was a 3D Picasso-esque sculpture in the middle — beautiful. He said, “My daughter likes to hit that with a hammer.”
I wrote the Extras scene about meeting your hero and him not being what you thought. I wrote the lyrics and called him and he said, “Sorry, I was eating a banana.” I thought that was funny. I asked if he could do something retro, something like “Life on Mars?” He said [sarcastically], “Sure, I’ll just knock off a quick little ‘Life on Mars?’ for you.” We laughed. And then he came and did the show and gave us exactly what Bowie was.
Later he was doing a benefit in New York for The High Line [park] and wanted me to do the show in Madison Square Garden. I said yes, “but only if you introduce me.” So he came out in a tuxedo, the crowd goes completely crazy, and then, a cappella, he started in with, ‘Chubby little loser … Please welcome Ricky Gervais.’ ” So that’s two highlights of my career with the same man.”
It’s now been reported that David Bowie was cremated in New York City. Tributes have flooded in for the late legend from across the globe, including concerts, events, cover songs and more. You can read our own obituary here, and read what fellow musicians have been saying here.