Rick Astley is intrinsically tied with Internet culture – who can ever escape the rickrolling of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’? But little did you know that this man has had seven other consecutive UK Top 10 hits that have been practically lost in history, and countless other tunes that need more light of day.
It’s time we take a deep dive into the Rick Astley beyond this meme and discover the discography behind the legendary name.
Born in 1966 in Newton-le-Willows, a small English town midway between Liverpool and Manchester, Richard Paul Astley grew up in what he described to Rolling Stone as “not the happiest time of my life”. His parents divorced when he was close to five-years-old and was raised by his dad who was “really, really pissed off a lot of the time… [but] he was great as well, he was really loving”.
Astley is the youngest of his three other siblings – a sister and two brothers – and, in fact, had another brother in the middle who passed away before he was born.
“There was definitely an element of ‘There’s something very wrong in this family.’ I can’t even say I’ve got these exact memories of it, I just know it was a bit odd,” he told Rolling Stone.
It was this environment that propelled him to find music, joining the school choir and singing in church.
Check out ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ by Rick Astley:
At just 21 years old, he hit the big time with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, which reached Number One in 25 countries. His iconic deep voice spent five weeks at the top of the British singles charts and within seven months of its release, he was a certified millionaire.
He pumped out four studio albums within six years, then decided to hang up the microphone, retiring at the age of 27 in 1993.
“Now it doesn’t seem like any amount of years, but then it was a quarter of my life. I was a young guy and I was like, ‘I don’t want to be doing that every single day of my life. I want to hang out with my friends. I’ve made a lot of money. I want to spend some of it. I want to do the things I want to do’,” he told Rolling Stone.
Having sold 40 million records worldwide, he was ready to turn his attention to his one-year-old daughter at the time, Emilie.
He made a quiet return to the scene in 2001 with Keep It Turned On but had a full resurgence when the Internet took hold of ‘rickrolling’ circa 2007. However, Rick’s music career peaked yet again when he released 50 – an album coinciding with his 50th birthday in 2016.
The album debuted in the top spot in the UK Album Charts, making it his second Number One album to his 1987 debut.
Since then, Astley has continued to write, sing and record his own work in his home studio in Surrey, England. His most recent release is his The Best of Me album – a compilation of the man’s finest work. We’ve similarly compiled ten of the tracks that showcase his chart-topping decade-defining talent beyond ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.
1. ‘Whenever You Need Somebody’ by Rick Astley
This was Astley’s second single and a recycled tune originally performed by O’Chi Brown. It peaked at Number 97 on the UK Singles Chart for Brown in 1985 but made it to Number One in seven countries when Astley released it two years later. A truly solidifying track on the charts for Astley.
2. ‘When I Fall In Love’ by Rick Astley
This cover of Nat King Cole’s original hit defined the festive season in 1987. However, a re-release of the original thwarted Astley’s sales despite his cover’s popularity.
3. ‘Together Forever’ by Rick Astley
Astley’s fourth single was his second and most recent US chart-topper, but only peaked at Number Two in his home county. Unfortunately for him, Aussie golden girl Kylie Minogue beat him with ‘I Should Be So Lucky’.
4. ‘She Wants To Dance With Me’ by Rick Astley
This was the first self-written tune released as a single by Astley, and was an unexpected hit given its simplicity.
5. ‘Take Me To Your Heart’ by Rick Astley
This song is quintessentially ’80s with the video clip showing off the more jovial side of Rick Astley. It also tempts a saxophone that never solos – now that would have been epic.
6. ‘Hold Me In Your Arms’ by Rick Astley
This self-written ballad was the title track of his second album. It’s one of his more low-key heartfelt songs from his early days.
7. ‘Giving Up On Love’ by Rick Astley
For a song about quite literally giving up on love, it’s a solid bop along that makes it seem not so bad. Another one written by Astley, it’s gained notoriety as the “giving up song by the guy who’s never gonna give you up”.
8. ‘Cry For Help’ by Rick Astley
This is one of the first singles released as Astley moved from dance-pop into soul and marked an age of maturity. He grew out his iconic slicked back hair and paired back his narrative-driven music videos into a simpler performance.
According to an interview with Song Facts, this song was inspired by people not wanting to talk about their troubles, such as the affect his brother’s death had on his parents.
9. ‘Hopelessly’ by Rick Astley
This was the last single released from his Body & Soul album before Astley’s 1993 retirement. It was the last song for fans to hold on to for a couple of years and thus one on the list to cherish.
10. ‘Angels On My Side’ by Rick Astley
This 2016 release was inspired by the luck in Astley’s life, from his siblings to career. Being the youngest from a broken family, his brothers and sister took him under their wings and helped raise him. But it also reflects on the charmed life he’s had and how the pop machine didn’t churn him up and toss him out on the other end for worse.