Friday, September 3, 2010

Rick Astley- Never gonna give you up

Richard Paul "Rick" Astley (born 6 February 1966) is a BRIT Award-winning English singer-songwriter, musician, and radio personality. He is known for his 1987 song, "Never Gonna Give You Up", which was a #1 hit single in 25 countries.[1] Astley holds the record for being the only male solo artist to have his first 8 singles reach the Top 10 in the UK[2] and has sold approximately 40 million records worldwide.[3][4]

After retiring from the music industry in 1993, Astley made a comeback in 2007 when he became an Internet phenomenon, as his video for "Never Gonna Give You Up" became part of a popular Internet meme known as "Rickrolling".[5] Astley was voted "Best Act Ever" by Internet users at the MTV Europe
Early life

Richard Paul Astley was born on 6 February 1966 in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, England, becoming the fourth child of his family. During his schooldays, Rick formed and played the drums in a number of local bands.[2] Employed during the day as a driver in his Father's market-gardening business, Rick played the club circuit at night in bands such as 'Give Way' - specialising in covering Beatles and Shadows songs - and FBI.[7]
The group FBI, from left to right, Kevin Needham, Rick Astley, Will Hopper, Peter Dale, & Greg Smee, in 1984

In 1985, Astley was performing as a drummer with a soul band named FBI. 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, Astley 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 PWL recording studio.[2] Under the tutelage of the production team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, known as Stock Aitken Waterman, Astley was taught about the recording process and groomed for his future career, supposedly starting off as the recording studio 'tea boy'.[8] The reason for Astley to be hired initially as a 'tape op', was to overcome his shyness.[9]

His first single was the little-known "When You Gonna", released as a collaboration with Lisa Carter, with little promotion. It did not chart. His first solo offering was "Never Gonna Give You Up", recorded on New Year's Day 1987, and released eight months later, in August. Astley's distinctive rich, deep voice combined with dance pop, made the song an immediate success,[10] spending five weeks at the top of the British charts and becoming the year's highest-selling single. The song was also a worldwide number one hit, topping the charts in 24 other countries, including the U.S., Australia, and Germany. It would become the first of 13 (worldwide) top 30 hit singles for him. "Never Gonna Give You Up" won Best British single at the 1988 BPI awards (now called the BRIT Awards),[11] and he performed the hit in front of a global audience of 100 million.[2][12]

His next single was "Whenever You Need Somebody", which was released in October. The single was a recycled Stock, Aitken, Waterman song, originally recorded by O'Chi Brown in 1985. It became a successful European hit, reaching #1 in seven countries, including Germany and Sweden, following up the success of his debut single. It also reached #3 in the UK. It was not released in North America.[13]

In November 1987, the album Whenever You Need Somebody also reached number one in the UK and Australia, and #10 in the U.S. Overall Whenever You Need Somebody sold 15.2 million copies worldwide, making him the top selling British act of the year.[2]

In the run up to Christmas 1987, Astley released a cover version of the Nat King Cole classic "When I Fall in Love". This single is mainly remembered for a closely fought contest for UK Christmas Number 1. Rivals EMI hoping to see their act, the Pet Shop Boys, reach #1, re-released the version by Nat King Cole.[14][15] This led to a slow down of purchases of Astley's version, allowing the Pet Shop Boys to reach the coveted top spot. Despite selling over 200,000 copies and gaining a Silver certification from the BPI,[16] it peaked in the UK at #2 for two weeks. The re-release of Nat King Cole's version reached #4. The B side was a dance number "My Arms Keep Missing You", which was successful in Mainland Europe.

Astley's fourth single release would be "Together Forever" in 1988, reaching #2 in the UK. It was denied the top spot by Neighbours sensation Kylie Minogue's debut I Should Be So Lucky.[17] "Together Forever" was more successful state-side, topping the U.S charts, making it his second U.S chart topper, which meant Astley was one of the few British acts to crack the American market. In 1989 he was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, but lost to Tracy Chapman.

His fifth and final release from his debut album was "It Would Take a Strong Strong Man". It was a more soulful song, when compared to his other releases, and was mainly intended for the North American market. Thus, it was not released in Britain. It was another hit for Astley, reaching #10 on the U.S Billboard Hot 100, and #2 in Canada. During the period between his debut release and his fifth single, Astley outsold every other artist in the world.[18] In the UK, he was in the Top 40 every week for the first 6 months of his career.[2]

A fire in the PWL studios destroyed much of Astley's new material,[2] causing a delay in the release of his second album. Hold Me In Your Arms was eventually released in January 1989, containing five singles, and reached #8 in the UK and #19 in the US.
Rick Astley was presented by Stock Aitken Waterman as a boy next door type act. After leaving PWL, Astley changed his image to a more mature and moody musician.

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.[11] This was despite Astley writing five of his new album's tracks. The negative press inevitably affected the sales of his singles.[19] The first single from the album to be released was "She Wants To Dance With Me", a number penned by Astley himself. It was another successful single reaching #6 in both the UK and US charts. "Take Me to Your Heart" was the next single to be released from the album. It reached #8 in the UK and was not released in the US. The Astley written ballad "Hold Me in Your Arms" reached #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 #38 and #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.[2] By the end of the tour, Astley was tiring of the negative press, and wanted to explore alternate paths as a musician. Thus, he left his producers Stock Aitken Waterman, with RCA records buying out his contract with PWL.

By 1990, Astley had parted company with Stock, Aitken, and Waterman. He also decided to leave his synth-pop days behind him, moving towards his passion, soul. This shift in musical genre lead him to change his image too, ditching the boy next door look, presenting himself as a mature and passionate musician. His third album, Free, was released in 1991 containing collaborations with Elton John.[11] The album contained three singles, and reached #9 in the UK and #31 in the US.

He achieved one more major success with the 1991 ballad "Cry for Help", which reached #7 in both the UK and the US. This would place Astley in The Guinness Book of Records, as he became the first male solo to have his first eight singles to all chart in the UK Top 10. This record still stands to this day.[2] The other two singles from Free were not as successful. "Move Right Out" reached #58 in the UK and #81 in the US; and "Never Knew Love" reached #70 in the UK and did not chart in the US. Free would mark the end of Astley's successful period, and "Cry For Help" would be the last Astley single to make the Top 10 in either the UK or US (as of May 2010).

In 1991 the RIAA certified that two million copies of Whenever You Need Somebody had been sold in the US.

His next album, Body and Soul, was released in 1993, and was largely an Adult Contemporary album. By the time the album was released, Astley decided to retire from the music industry. As a result, the album did not get a lot of promotion,[2] not charting in the UK but managing to make the Billboard 200, peaking at #182. The two singles, "The Ones You Love" and "Hopelessly", performed very well on the US adult contemporary chart, peaking at #19 and #4 respectively. "The Ones You Love" peaked at #48 in the UK but did not chart in the US. "Hopelessly" also crossed over and peaked at #28 on the US Billboard 100, staying in the US top 40 for five weeks, and #33 in the UK. It was named as one of the most performed songs at the 1994 BMI Awards,[20] and is one of the few songs to achieve BMI 'Million-Air' status.[21]

After 1993, Astley decided to retire from the music industry at the young age of 27 deciding that family life was more important. During Astley's time out of the music business, he helped raise his daughter Emilie, born in 1992. Thus, for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, Astley remained largely out of the spotlight. One notable musical appearance by Astley during retirement was as a backing singer on The Lion King soundtrack in 1994.[8]

Almost 10 years after Body and Soul, Astley finally returned to the music world and released Keep It Turned On in 2002. The album featured the single "Sleeping", which became a minor club hit, thanks to a set of remixes from U.S. house producer Todd Terry. Keep It Turned On was only released in Continental Europe.

A compilation album, Greatest Hits was released in 2002, and reached 16 on the UK Albums Chart. It sold over 100,000 copies and was certified Gold by the BPI.

In 2003, he managed to chart at #10 in the UK as a songwriter with "Shakespeare's (Way With) Words" performed by short lived boyband One True Voice.

In 2004, Astley toured for the first time in 14 years, which lead him to a record contract with Sony BMG.[2]

In March 2005, Astley released the album Portrait in which he covered many classic standards such as "Vincent",[22] "Nature Boy" and "Close to You". Both Astley and Sony BMG were unhappy with the end result so the album was poorly promoted,[2] yet managed to reach 26 on the UK Albums Chart.

In early 2006, Astley withdrew unexpectedly from appearing on the BBC TV celebrity/pro duets show Just the Two of Us after committing to do so. Astley's withdrawal was due to his wife Lene Bausager being nominated for the 2006 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for the Sean Ellis film Cashback, where she was the main producer. Astley would have missed a crucial part of the show by attending the awards ceremony and so withdrew before the show began.[23]
Astley performing in Denmark '09

In April 2008, the album "The Ultimate Collection: Rick Astley" was released by Sony BMG and by early May it had reached #17 on the UK Top 40 Albums Chart.[24]

In September 2008, Rick was nominated for the 'Best Act Ever' award at the MTV Europe Music Awards[6] The push to make Astley the winner of the award continued after the announcement, as well as efforts to encourage MTV to personally invite Astley to the awards ceremony.[25] On 10 October, Astley's website confirmed that an invitation to the awards had been received.[26] On 7 November, following a massive internet campaign by fans, Rick won the award in Liverpool, but was not there in person to receive it. Perez Hilton collected the prize on his behalf.[27] On the back of this, "Never Gonna Give You Up" returned to the UK charts, over 21 years after it was released, peaking at #73 during the Christmas period.

During the late 2000s, Astley continued touring across the globe, touring with various other 80s acts, such as Boy George and Belinda Carlisle in the Here and Now Tour.[2] In April 2009, he wrote an article for Time Magazine about moot.[28]

Astley was a special guest throughout Peter Kay's new tour, The Tour That Doesn't Tour Tour...Now On Tour, from 27 April to 22 May 2010. To mark the occasion, Rick Astley released a new single "Lights Out", which was released on 7 June 2010.[29] This was Astley's first release in the UK Singles Chart in 17 years. It was well received by radio peaking #15 on the UK Airplay Charts, but failed to become a commercial hit, reaching only #97 on the UK Singles Chart. His next single is "Goodbye But Not The End", which is to be released later in the year. It was unveiled on The Michael Ball Show on ITV.[30]

During the summer 2010, Astley became a radio DJ for London's Magic FM.[31]


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