The day after I was born, Robbie Williams left Take That.
The two incidents aren’t related – it’s just a bit of a coincidence.
Even though my namesake was very famous at this point – having released hits like Could It Be Magic and Pray with his chart-topping band – my parents didn’t name me after him.
Their story is that they were unaware he even existed; the day after I was born they saw the headlines and instantly thought, ‘Jesus Christ, what have we done’.
It was actually my older brother who got the honour of naming me, and he wasn’t as much of a Take That fan, as Pingu obsessed. For anyone not familiar with the show, Robby the seal is Pingu’s best friend. I think it’s worse probably – I’m named after a claymation seal.
My parents managed to keep me in the dark about the more famous Robbie until I reached primary school. But by reception I had become accustomed to my classmates’ parents making comments about their child sharing lessons with Robbie Williams.
I soon became the talk of the school and it felt like everyone knew who I was simply because of my name. Even during the early years of high school, people would come up to me and say: ‘Oh, you’re Robbie Williams, aren’t you?’.
As you can imagine, I’ve heard all the classics like, ‘I bet he’s going to entertain us’, or ‘I hope you don’t say something stupid like I love you’. After introducing myself, the most common response I receive is ‘sing us a song’ – that ain’t happening.
From strangers, it’s annoying. I appreciate that people are trying to be funny. The problem is if you hear the same joke since you’re a kid, you struggle to laugh at it.
But silver linings – it’s a great icebreaker in a new social setting like starting a new job. You can join an office where people immediately know something about you, and they feel comfortable having a laugh and taking the piss.
On my first day I’ll get the usual joke of ‘Oh, that’s disappointing, I thought Robbie Williams was coming to work here’.
My boss is particularly happy as he has a Gary Barlow mask that he’s taken joy in putting on during our recent Zoom meetings – ‘Oh it’s a Take That reunion’.
While I don’t think Robbie Williams has been huge in the UK for a little while now, elsewhere in Europe he’s still massive.
My girlfriend is Norwegian, and whenever I travel there I have to be prepared for someone clocking my name. Her family has made such a big deal about it that whenever I speak to her niece – who is nearly three years old – she gets really excited.
To them I’m not Robbie or Rob, I’m Robbie Williams – in full.
It’s a blessing and a curse, and sometimes I wish I was just called something like Steve.
Ultimately though, I don’t give much thought to sharing a name with him. It’s just a name after all; there must be hundreds of us that are also called Robbie Williams.
It probably helps that most of the hysteria that accompanied his music was when I was really young. Take That were making waves before I was born, and I was a child when they were at the height of their and Robbie’s fame.
When they reunited in 2005, Robbie wasn’t even part of the line up, so I think I’ve been quite lucky with which band member is my namesake. If he was as famous now as he was in the 90s and early 2000s I think I’d struggle a bit.
I don’t think even any controversy surrounding him has stuck in the public consciousness.
I worried when he joined the X Factor in 2018 that his popularity would surge – but after quitting the show the following year, I seemed to have had a lucky escape.
Unless he releases another hit, I might be safe to live a life of relative anonymity. If he does, hopefully I can hear some new puns!
Hello, My Name Is…
It’s not easy having the same name as someone, or something, famous.
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