Rick Astley Biography

Richard Paul Astley, 6 February 1966, Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, England. Astley was the drummer in a local band called Give Way, before joining soul outfit FBI in 1984 as lead vocalist. He was discovered by the successful producer/writer Pete Waterman in 1985 and worked at Waterman’s PWL studios while waiting for a recording break. In 1987 he recorded a duet, ‘Learning To Live’, with Ochi Brown and was also part of Rick And Lisa, whose single ‘When You Gonna’ was released on RCA Records. He also sang on the UK number 1 hit ‘Let It Be’ by Ferry Aid, before achieving his first solo success with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. This single topped the UK chart, became the biggest UK single of 1987 (winning a BRIT Award), and helped to make him the top singles act of the year. His debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody, also reached number 1 in the UK and sold over a million copies. When Astley was launched in the USA in 1988, he was an instant success. When ‘Together Forever’ followed ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ to number 1, he became the first artist in the 80s to top the US charts with his first two singles. In 1988, Astley was the most played US club act and had the top-selling 12-inch record.

Under the wing of Stock, Aitken And Waterman, Astley achieved seven UK and four US Top 10 singles. Despite the fact that he possessed one of the best voices in pop music, he became a target for the UK media who saw him as a puppet of his producers. Astley wanted to have more involvement in his recordings and he left the winning production and writing team. After a lengthy break, he resurfaced in 1991 with the successful album Free, which included guest appearances from Elton John and Mark King (of Level 42). This album also included the co-written single ‘Cry For Help’, which put him back into the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. Astley left RCA in 1993, and very little was heard of him until he signed a new recording contract with Polydor Universal in May 2001. His first studio album in almost 10 years, Keep It Turned On, was released in Germany in December. Four years later Astley returned with an album of cover versions, Portrait.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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