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Rick Astley Biography

Home > Music > A > Astley, Rick > Biography

Birth Name: Richard Paul Astley
Born: 1966/02/06
Birth Place: Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, England
Years Active: 1985–1993, 2001–present
Genres: Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul, Eurobeat

Richard Astley was born on February 6, 1966 in in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, England, and is a pop singer and radio personality. Astley is most well-known for his international hit single, “Never Gonna Give You Up” (1987), which peaked at #1 on the single chart in 25 countries. In 1993, Astley retired from the music industry; however in 2007 he became an internet sensation when renewed interest in his massive hit single surfaced again all over the web.

Astley began his musical career singing in his local church choir at the age of ten, and by the time he was a teenager he had formed numerous bands and had played drums in a number of local bands. After leaving school at sixteen, Astley played drums in two bands: Give Way and FBI. After gaining some exposure with these bands, Astley decided to go solo and released his first single, “When You Gonna,” which did not chart. Next came the massive hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and instantly the public wanted to know who Rick Astley was and the record labels wanted to sign him. Astley eventually signed with PWL Records. The single went on to win Best British Single at the BRIT Awards in 1988.

Astley's next seven singles went to the #1 spot on the U.K. chart, making him an instant star overnight. Astley was also able to cross over to the American market; his single, “Together Forever” gave him his second Top 10 hit single in the U.S Pop chart. 1989 saw Astley nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. His debut album, “Whenever You Need Someone” appeared in 1987 and was a huge commercial success. Astley's fifth single from the album, “It Would Take a Strong Strong Man” marked a change in musical direction from the pop/dance songs that came before it. This single showed a more mature and soulful side of Astley and was a big hit with the fans. The single peaked at #10 on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #1 on the Canadian chart. Astley's second offering, “Hold Me In Your Arms” appeared in 1989 and spawned five singles; peaking at #8 on the U.K. Albums chart and #19 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

Astley embarked on a world tour after the release of his second album, however his relationship with the press began to deteriorate; as a result he decided to leave PWL and change his image by signing with RCA records. Astley decided to follow his life-long passion of soul music and began to write more of his own material. His third offering, “Free” (1991) featured collaborations with Elton John, and peaked at #9 on the U.K. Albums chart and #31 on the Billboard 200. Astley's fourth studio offering, “Body and Soul” emerged in 1993, and also marked his retirement from the music industry. In 2002, almost a decade later, Astley resurfaced with “Keep It Turned On” on Polydor Records. 2004 saw Astley touring again for the first time in fourteen years, the tour ended with an offer from Sony BMG Records. 2005 marked the release of Astley's sixth studio album, “Portrait.”

In 2008, Astley won the 'Best Act Ever' Award at the MTV Europe Music Awards. The renewed interest in Astley and his music prompted a world tour with other famed 80s artists, such as Boy George and Belinda Carlisle. Astley also toured with Peter Kay and released a new single, “Lights Out” (2010) on his own label. Astley still tours and gives occasional live performances, in addition to hosting a radio show.