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Rick Astley is an English singer, songwriter and radio personality. His 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up” was a number 1 hit single in 25 countries and won the 1988 Brit Award for Best British Single. By the time of his retirement in 1993, Astley had sold approximately 40 million records worldwide.
Rick made a comeback in 2007, becoming an Internet phenomenon when the music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” became integral to the meme known as “rickrolling”. Rick was voted “Best Act Ever” by Internet users at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008 and his 2016 album 50 debuted in the UK at No. 1.
In 1985, Rick was performing as a drummer with a soul band named FBI, with Morris on guitar. They were a well-known local band writing and performing their own music, gigging in pubs and clubs. When FBI’s lead singer left the band, and Morris left to concentrate on his career in hairdressing, Rick offered to be the lead vocalist. This was when he was noticed by the record producer Pete Waterman, who persuaded him to come to London to work at the Pete Waterman Limited (PWL) recording studio with RCA Records publishing his records. Under the tutelage of the production team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, known as Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW), Rick was taught about the recording process and groomed for his future career, supposedly starting off as the recording studio “tea boy”. The reason for Rick to be hired as a “tape op” was to overcome his shyness. SAW also hired most of FBI, including Morris as a guitarist/songwriter.
Astley’s relationship with British media deteriorated significantly after the release of Whenever You Need Somebody, with the media calling him a “puppet” of Stock Aitken Waterman although Astley had written five of his new album’s tracks. The negative press inevitably affected the sales of his singles. The first single from the album to be released was “She Wants to Dance with Me”, a number written by Astley. It was another successful single, reaching No 6 on both the UK and US charts. “Take Me to Your Heart” was the next single to be released from the album. It reached No 8 in the UK and was not released in the US “Hold Me in Your Arms”, a ballad written by Astley, reached No 10 in the UK and was also not released in North America. The next two singles released from the album were intended for the North American market. “Giving Up on Love” and a cover of The Temptations song “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” charted at No 38 and No 89 in the US respectively.
In December 1989, Astley set off on his first world tour, touring 15 countries including the UK, US, Australia, and Japan. By the end of the tour, he was tiring of the negative press, and wanted to explore alternative paths as a musician. Thus, he left his producers Stock Aitken Waterman, and RCA records bought out his contract with PWL.