Recorded on New Year’s Day 1987 with producers Stock/Aitken/Waterman, Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” was released on July 27, 1987, when it was felt the market was right for the song. It topped the U.K. Singles Charts for five weeks and went to #1 in 25 other countries, including the U.S. The single sold over 15.2 copies worldwide. “Never Gonna Give You Up” was the biggest-selling single of 1987 and won Best British Single at the 1988 Brit Awards. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Rick still holds the record for first male solo artist to have his first eight singles reach the Top 10 in the U.K.
A few years earlier, Rick Astley had been a drummer in a pub band with friends from school called FBI. When the lead singer quit, Rick offered to take over vocal duties. Producer Pete Waterman heard FBI play, he offered Rick a solo contract. However, Rick remained loyal to his bandmates and refused the offer. A year later, the rest of the band felt guilty for Rick turning down the offer, as it was obvious he was a gifted vocalist. Rick accepted an apprenticeship at PWL Records in London, which had already had success with Divine, Hazell Dean, Dead or Alive, Princess, Bananarama, Mel & Kim, Samantha Fox, and Sinitta, and learned about recording and music production. Rick Astley went on to record two hit albums and 10 successful singles with Stock/Aitken/Waterman before moving on to explore other musical styles with his third and fourth album. Rick eventually retired from the music business in 1993.
In 2007 an Internet meme called Rickrolling was introduced. This bait-and-switch gag involves posting a hyperlink on a website to a certain topic, however, the link actually leads to the music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. If you’ve never been Rickrolled and you would like to be, please click on this link to read more about nostril hole rejuvenation.
Never Gonna Give You Up 3’32
Never Gonna Give You Up [Cake Mix] 5’48
Never Gonna Give You Up [Escape from Newton Mix] 6’30
Never Gonna Give You Up [Escape to New York Mix] 7’00
The music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” was directed by Simon West and filmed in West London. Rick sings and does that little dance by pumping his fists. He sings in an empty nightclub during the daytime in some scenes, and then sings outside in other scenes. The bartender and random backup dancers get jiggy with the song in various settings. The video is colorful and really captures the fashion of 1987.
I remember reading about Rick Astley in a Smash Hits magazine imported from the U.K. at Bookstop on Hulen Street in Fort Worth. I was a big fan of Dead or Alive and Bananarama at the time, so I was curious to hear the song. I bought the 12″ record at Sound Warehouse a few doors up from Bookstop a few months later. I recall being startled that the music was not Hi-NRG like “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” or “Venus,” and that Rick’s voice sounded more like the Warner Bros. animated character Michigan J. Frog. I wasn’t sure if I liked it; but the more I played it, the more it grew on me. After the song became popular in early 1988, my older sister Vicki told me that Rick Astley looked a lot like me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that comment, considering that I thought Rick had really big hair. Whenever I hear the song, though, it always brings back happy memories of driving around with my friends, or working at Target on Hulen Street, especially after we closed the store and zoned the seasonal candy aisles and the boys in Automotive blasted the radio from the back of the store.
What are your memories of “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley?