Yes, ladies (and gentlemen), that is Ricky Gervais in the 1980s
Yes, ladies (and gentlemen), that is Ricky Gervais in the 1980s

Did You Know that Ricky Gervais Was a Synth Pop Star in the 1980s?

The new print issue of Rolling Stone magazine (the one with Rihanna's perhaps-photoshopped booty shorts on the cover) has a feature/interview with UK comedy great Ricky Gervais (creator of The Office and Extras, and controversial awards-show MC). The feature is kind of strange because the interviewer doesn't really like Gervais, so there's a slightly hostile undertone throughout. But the most intriguing part of the article to us was the revelation that Ricky Gervais used to be in a synth pop band in the UK in the 1980s--and he looked the part.

Gervais was part of synth-duo Seona Dancing, which scored a chart hit in the UK back then:

Rolling Stone printed a photo of Gervais in 1983 and the article described his involvement with the band:

[Gervais] went to University College London, started off as a biology major, switched to philosophy, graduated, and decided to become a pop star. His band was called Seona Dancing, and the YouTube video of its one charting song features Gervais at age 22, looking incredibly handsome and self-assured in an androgynous David Bowie/Flock of Seagulls sort of way. But he soon dropped this dream, bounced around a little bit, and eventually got a job at the University of London Union.

There are in fact a number of Seona Dancing videos up on YouTube and they're all pretty striking:

Here's a live performance (with later commentary by a VH1-type show in the UK):

The secret of Gervais' botched musical career is well-known in the UK, but many American fans will be surprised to realize that the David Brent version of "If You Don't Know Me By Now" and Gervais' discomfort-inducing self-deprecating turn against David Bowie in Extras have deep synth-pop roots.

Seona Dancing: again--that's the Ricky Gervais!
Seona Dancing: again--that's the Ricky Gervais!

Gervais, of course, is very open about his early bout with synth-pop fame and he even addressed the topic of Seona Dancing (pronounced "Shawna Dancing") in post-Office interviews:

Alright--he didn't say much. But, still--aren't you at least a little shocked at this bit of old news?

Alright--he does

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