Jemaine Clement says David Bowie turned down an offer to star as himself in a cameo appearance on Flight of the Conchords.

In an essay for The Spinoff, Clement says he and Bret McKenzie offered Bowie the chance to play himself in an episode for the first season of their HBO sitcom.

That episode featured the song Bowie's in Space, a tribute to the musical pioneer who died earlier this week from cancer at the age of 69.

The scene features versions of Bowie from different eras appearing and singing to McKenzie in a dream.

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They tracked Bowie down through a friend of a friend, but Bowie declined.

"The someone we knew talked to the someone they knew's friend of someone who represented him and possibly approached him about it and he (or quite possibly merely a representative) said that he'd just done Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's Extras and didn't want to do another thing acting as a version of him. He'd rather just continue being the actual him," writes Clement.

Despite being disappointed, Clement said he was also "relieved".

"Through the disappointment I was extremely relieved. As exciting as it is to meet your hero the relief of not having to meet them is another, quite different and pleasant feeling."

The part was eventually played by both Clement and McKenzie.

Clement also paid tribute to Bowie on Twitter.

- nzherald.co.nz