Meet Rick Astley [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]
You are about to be “Rickrolled!”
I remember when the first Rick Astley record hit the airwaves, us “jocks” all looked at the CD cover…and said: “This voice comes from THAT guy?!”
Richard Paul Astley was born on February 6, 1966 in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, England. Rick was the fourth child. His parents divorced when he was five, and Astley was raised by his father!
Rick Astley’s music abilities came to light early…as he started singing in his church choir at age 10! As a student, Astley played the drums in a number of local bands, where he met guitarist David Morris.
Upon leaving school at age 16, Rick Astley worked during the day as a driver in his father’s market-gardening business, and played drums in the clubs at night in bands such as “Give Way” and “FBI,” a winner of local talent competitions!
In 1985, Astley was was the drummer in the band FBI, with Morris on guitar. They were a well-known local band, writing and performing their own music, in the pubs and clubs. When FBI’s lead singer left the band, and Morris left to concentrate on his career as a hairdresser, Astley offered to be lead vocalist.
Rick was soon noticed by record producer Pete Waterman, who persuaded him to come to London to work at the “PWL” recording studio (“The Sound Of A Bright Young Britain”). And, his songs would be released on the RCA Records label!
Under the watchful eye of the production team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Waterman (known as Stock, Aitken & Waterman), Astley was groomed for his future career..starting off as the recording studio “tape op,” to help him overcome shyness! Really!
Rick Astley’s first single would be the little-known “When You Gonna.” Astley was teamed up with singer Lisa Carter. The song did not chart.
Astley’s first solo record got noticed…and in a BIG way!
- “Whenever You Need Somebody,” 1987. (Craig Allen photo)
“Never Gonna Give You Up,” was recorded on New Year’s Day in 1987! When it was released in the fall, Astley’s rich, deep voice, combined with the dance/pop groove, made the song an immediate success!
It was #1 for 2 weeks here in the U.S. It stayed perched at the top of the British charts for 5 weeks, becoming the year’s highest-selling single in England. The song was also a worldwide #1 hit, topping the charts in 24 other countries, including Australia and Germany.
Astley’s next song was not released as a single in North America (although it was on the album)…
However, “Whenever You Need Somebody” was a #3 hit in England, and #1 in 7 European countries, including Germany and Sweden.
“Together Forever” would go to #1 in the summer of 1988!
In 1989, Rick Astley was nominated for a Grammy, as Best New Artist…but he lost out to Tracy Chapman.
Rick Astley’s final release from his debut album “Whenever You Need Somebody,” was “It Would Take a Strong, Strong Man.” (#10/1988).
The song was more “soulful” than his dance hits, and was mainly intended for North America…so it was not released as a single in England! It went to #1 in Canada!
A fire in the PWL studios destroyed a lot of Astley’s new material…
- “Hold Me In Your Arms,” 1988. (Craig Allen photo)
…causing a delay in the release of his second album: “Hold Me In Your Arms.
“She Wants To Dance With Me,” written by Astley, went to #6 in the US, and England in early 1989.
“Giving Up On Love” was the first Rick Astley release in America that did not land in the top ten! It stalled out at #38 (1989).
A cover of the 1960’s Temptations hit “Ain’t To Proud to Beg,” only went to #89 (1989).
Enjoy this “live in concert” performance…the album version of “Beg” isn’t available in video form!
In December 1989, Astley embarked on his first world tour, hitting 15 countries including the US, England, Australia, and Japan. By the end of the tour, he was tiring of the negative press, and wanted to branch out as a musician. So, he parted with producers Stock Aitken Waterman. RCA Records bought out his contract with PWL.
In 1990, Rick Astley wanted to leave his dance/pop days behind. He wanted to pursue his passion: soul music. It was time to be a mature musician.
- “Free,” 1991. (Craig Allen photo)
The album “Free,” containing duets with Elton John, came out in 1991.
- “Cry For Help,” Radio Promo Single, 1991. (Craig Allen photo)
The ballad “Cry For Help,” went to #7 in the US, and England!
The next two singles barely blipped on the charts…ending Astley’s successful period. “Cry for Help” would be the last Rick Astley single to make the Top 10 in either the UK or USA.
- “Body & Soul,” 1993. (Craig Allen photo)
“Body And Soul” was the next Astley album offering. It did well with the “adult” audience.
“Hopelessly” went to #4 on the Adult chart, and crossed over to the Billboard Hot Hits Charts, at #28 (1993).
At this time, 1993, Rick Astley decided that family was more important than the music business…and he RETIRED…at the ripe (young) age of 27!
So, for most of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Astley stayed out of the spotlight. One notable musical appearance during retirement, was as a backing singer on “The Lion King” soundtrack in 1994.
In his retirement years, he and wife Lene Bausager raised their daughter, Emilie, who was born in 1992. Rick Astley met his wife in 1988, when she was a record promoter with RCA.
After about 10 years off…
- “Keep It Turned On,” 2002. (amazon.com)
Rick Astley returned to the recording studio in 2002, releasing the album “Keep It Turned On” in Europe (only).
The single “Sleeping” was a club hit.
Rick Astley albums were also put out in 2005 and 2008.
- The first of many “Greatest Hits” CDs! (amazon.com)
A first “Greatest Hits” CD also hit store shelves in 2002.
September 2008 saw Rick Astley winning the “Best Act Ever Award” at the MTV Europe Music Awards Show! Thanks to the award, “Never Gonna Give You Up” returned to the British Pop Charts more than 21 years after it was released, peaking at #73 during the Christmas holiday!
In the late 200’s, Rick Astley hit the road, touring with other 80’s acts, including Boy George, and Belinda Carlise, to name a few!
And, in 2010, Rick Astley returned to the studio. No, not that studio…a RADIO studio!
He appeared on London’s “Magic FM,” doing a Sunday show. He was such a hit, that the initial 8-week deal was extended through the rest of the year! He has also appeared on the “Breakfast Show” on BBC 2.
Jolly Good, Rick Astley!
What else is Rick Astley doing these days? Click here for his official website!
Oh yeah…as mentioned in the 2010 TV interview video…Astley became an internet phenomenon in 2007, as the video for “Never Going To Give You Up” went viral! Assorted links were hacked, so that they took you to the video!
The sensation of “Never Gonna Give You Up” just popping up, was called “Rickrolling.”
And, now as the saying goes: “You have been Rickrolled!”