42 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Rick Astley

Richard Paul Astley was born on 6th February 1966. Now at age 55, he’s an English singer songwriter responsible for one particular 80s hit that you’ve probably heard of. There’s one thing for sure, he’s never gonna give you up! And we can’t give him up either! In fact, we can’t get enough of him!

Rick Astley performing his hit song

By the time that Astley retired in 1993, he had sold approximately 40 million records worldwide. In 2007, he made a comeback after becoming an internet sensation when the music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” became integral to the “rickrolling” Internet meme.


In 2008, the singer songwriter was voted the “Best Act Ever” by internet users at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2008. In 2016, his new album, 50, debuted in the UK at No.1. His album Beautiful Life, released in 2018, also proved a hit across Europe.To celebrate Astley’s achievements, here are 42 things you might not have known about Rick Astley, 80s legend.

Astley in the music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up'

1. Richard Paul Astley, born in 1966, started out as a choir boy

At ten years old, Astley was a choir boy at his local church, so yes, the singer songwriter is actually as clean-cut as his image suggested!

Rick Astley in his 80s heyday

2. He Started Out As A Drummer

In 1985 Rick was performing as a drummer with a soul band called ‘FBI’, who were a reasonably well known band that wrote and performed their own songs in local pubs and clubs.

Astley as a young drummer

3. He Was Employed As A ‘Tea Boy’

A publicity shot of Rick Astley

Astley was noticed by record producer Pete Waterman, who brought him under his wing along with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken (who were collectively known as Stock Aitken Waterman). They taught Rick all about the recording process and prepared him for his future career, whilst he was supposedly employed as the recording studio’s ‘tea boy’.

Another publicity still of Astley

4. His First Single Was A Flop

Super fans will remember that the first Rick Astley single ever released was a duet called ‘When You Gonna’, which he performed with Lisa Carter under the name ‘Rick and Lisa’. Sadly, it was a big flop.

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5. He Hit The Top Spot All Over The World

Rick Astley’s 1987 song ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, of later rickrolling fame, was released to critical acclaim. It reached No.1 in 25 countries as well as winning the 1988 Brit Award for Best British Single. Given its extreme catchiness, it’s perhaps less of a surprise this tune and its video were revived as an internet meme all these decades later.

6. People Often Assumed He Was Black

When he started out, a lot of people assumed Rick was a black man because of his deep singing voice.

A black and white photo of Astley in the 80s

7. The British Media Called Him A ‘Puppet’

After his first album was released, the British media called Astley a ‘puppet’ of Stock Aitken Waterman, even though he had written five of the album’s tracks himself.

The album cover to Never Gonna Give You Up

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8. He Toured Fifteen Countries…

Rick Astley in 2019

In 1989, Astley toured 15 countries including the UK, US, Australia, and Japan. The tour didn’t quite go to plan.

9. He Left His Producers After The Tour

By the end of his tour, Astley was fed up of the negative press, and wanted to ‘explore alternative paths as a musician’, causing him to leave his Waterman producers.

10. He Came Back With A New Image…

Astley today

After leaving Stock Aitken Waterman, Astley moved toward a more Soul-inspired musical style, which also caused him to change his image and present himself as a ‘mature and passionate musician’.

11…But Eventually He Decided To Retire Completely

By the time his 1993 album ‘Body and Soul’ was released in 1993, Rick Astley (age 27), had decided to retire from the  industry completely to concentrate on his family. Rick’s parents divorced when he was 4, and he feared that his career would destroy his family life.

Rick Astley with long hair

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12. The Name Richard Paul Astley Still Features In The Guinness Book Of World Records

Rick is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first male solo artist to have his first 8 singles reach the Top 10 in the UK.

Astley performing live on stage

13. The Internet has created a new Rick Astley Age, catapulting him to viral stardom

The name Richard Paul Astley had faded somewhat in pop culture, when in 2007, the experienced a huge revival. Astley became the subject of a viral Internet meme called ‘rickrolling’, where internet users are tricked into seeing Rick Astley’s video for ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ when they click on a link that they expect to lead them somewhere else. Oddly enough, this has meant the Internet Age – rather than the Eighties – has truly become the new Rick Astley Age.

14. He Eventually Returned

Nearly 10 years after his last album, Rick Astley returned to the music industry in 2001 with a new album called ‘Keep It Turned On’. His eighth studio album, Beautiful Life, was released in 2018.

15. He Has Been With His Wife For Thirty Years

Rick Astley is married to Lene Bausager who he met when she was working as a record producer in 1998. They have a 26 year old daughter, Emilie. Lene Bausager is a film producer who worked on 1996’s Trainspotting.

Astley and his wife Lene Bausager

16. He Co-Wrote A Song With Former Marillion singer, Fish

Fish from Marillion

Rick Astley co-wrote the song “Missing Statement” with the former singer of Marillion, Fish (from Fish’s 1999 album “Raingods with Zippos.”

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17. He Is A Fan Of British Comedies

The Young Ones cast
Rick Astley is a big fam of British comedy series, especially The Young Ones (1982) and Blackadder (also 1982).

18. “Never Gonna Give You Up” Won A Very X-Rated Award

A still from the Never Gonna Give You Up music video
The single “Never Gonna Give You Up” won the British Phonographic Industry Award for British Single in 1988.

19. Smash Hits Magazine Wasn’t Very Kind To Him

Smash Hits magazine cover from the 80s
When Rick Astley was at the height of his career, Smash Hits referred to Astley as a “singing teaboy” and often misprinted his name as “Dick Spatsley.”

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20. His Daughter Was 9 When He Announced He Was Re-Starting His Music Career

Astley and his wife Lene
Rick Astley has a daughter named Emilie with his wife, Lene Bausager. In 2001 she was nine when he released the news that he was re-starting his career in music. He and his wife had not yet married at that point.
Astley with his wife and daughter out on the town

21. Rick Astley Thinks Phil Collins Is One Of The Most Underrated Musicians Of All Time

Phil Collins
In an interview, Rick Astley said: “I think Phil Collins is one of the most underrated musicians, singers, performers – he is absolutely amazing, I think, and I think he’s probably got a bit of a rough ride occasionally because he became so mainstream and so popular.”
Phil Collins during an interview

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22. He Believes That He Butchered A Few Songs

Rick Astley in 2019
Rick Astley at age 55 looks back on some of his earlier covers with less pride than others. “There’s some songs you can cover, and I’ve covered and butchered a few, but you can’t do them all,” he has said.

23. He Loves Singing To A Live Audience

Astley singing live
“You can’t explain the feeling of singing hit songs to an audience – it’s like being a genuine sports star at the peak of their powers.”

24. Vic Reeves’ Impersonation Of Him Is A Highlight Of His Life

Vic Reeves on CBB
“It’s really weird seeing someone impersonating you,” Rick Astley has commented. “But at the same time, Vic Reeves’ impersonation of me is one of the highlights of my life.”

25.  He Had Enough Of Music When His Daughter Was Born

Astley during a photo shoot
“When [Emilie] was born, a light went on for me – there was more to life than what I was doing. It felt like being famous for being a paint salesman. It wasn’t the dream I was sold on. I’d had enough of it.”

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26. He Says That The Pop Industry Is Cruel

Astley on Loose Women
“Because the pop industry is cruel, if you don’t do everything the label wants you to do, it has an army of other people waiting to do it,” Rick Astley has noted.

27. He Was Known For Being Shy and Reclusive

Another publicity still of the season
“Back in the ’80s, I was known for being reclusive, often shying away from media attention.”

28. He’s Been Asked For Autographs In Some Pretty Strange Places

A signed photograph of Rick Astley
“I must admit, the constant invasion of privacy was becoming a real concern. I’ve been asked for autographs while I’ve been doing laps in the pool and even in the toilet!”

29. He Loves Soul Music

Astley and Dave Grohl
“I used to go to soul nights because I loved dancing, and so did my friends, and we loved the music. We used to go listen to black American soul,” Rick Astley has recalled.

30. He Believes That Fame Comes From Hard Work And Doesn’t Happen Overnight

One Direction photo shoot
“Don’t expect fame to come overnight. That filtered through to me in my own career. Look at Madonna: she’s not the best singer in the world, but she’s got where she has through hard work.”
Photo of Little Mix
Although look at people like One Direction and Little Mix of The X Factor generation. Fame for them was almost instantaneous.

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31. He Enjoys Eating Out

A bread roll with Rick Astley's face
“I do have a thing for eating out; that’s one of life’s great middle-age pleasures.” I mean, who doesn’t enjoy eating out?

32. He Is Honoured That His Fans Helped Win “Best Act Ever.” 

Astley picking up an MTV Award
“I am honoured that my fans worked so hard to help me win Best Act Ever at the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards.”

33. He Doesn’t Like Flying

Stock photo of an aeroplane
“I don’t like flying. I’m a bit scared of it and don’t enjoy the whole experience.” I’m all for flying personally, I think it’s great!

34. He Says That He Doesn’t Get Recognised Off Stage

Astley goofing around on stage
“I don’t get recognised until I’m on stage, and then I can walk off and forget about it. It’s great.”

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35. He Comes From A Large Family

Stock photo of a fish and chip shop
“I was the youngest of four kids, and Dad, who had a garden centre before he retired, came from a large Lancashire family. Every one of my uncles had their own business, including a post office, two fish and chip shops and a painting and decorating business.” Even reading about fish and chips is making me hungry.
Stock photo of fish and chips

37. He Says His Time Away From The Spotlight Helped Him Rediscover Music

Rick Astley publicity still
“My success set me up for life, and it meant that I could retire from the music industry at 27 to spend time with my newborn daughter and my wife. My time away from the spotlight allowed me to rediscover my love for music, and I’m doing it for me now and no one else.”
A photo of Astley from the 80s

38. Scientology Makes Him Think of Aliens

Church of Scientology
“Scientology always makes me think of that movie ‘V’ where that woman takes off her mask of human flesh to reveal her true, alien self.”

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39. They Only Had One Record Player In His House

Stock photo of a record player
“When I was a tiny tot, we only had one record player in the house, so there was either Genesis on it or the Jungle Book or The Beatles as well, and various other things.”

40. He Likes To Go On Spontaneous Driving Holidays Abroad

European coastline
“I’ve done drives through Budapest and Oslo and used to drive to Sardinia, too, which is quite a journey. Drives are an adventure because I don’t plan them too carefully. I take detours depending on how I feel and usually stop and stay at places I like the look of.”
Mediterranean coastline

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41. He Used To Go On Holidays to the Scottish Highlands

Scottish highlands
Rick Astley was born in Lancashire, but many of his happiest childhood memories are from Scotland. “My dad loved Scotland, so we would pile into his caravan and head for the Highlands, to Fort William and Loch Ness. It was such an adventure – my siblings and I were allowed to roam and explore the local beaches. We loved the freedom of those trips.”
Scottish landscape

42. Rick Astley Enjoys Having All Of His Music In One Place

Rick Astley original vinyl
At age 55, Astley enjoys the simplicity of enjoying his favourite tunes these days. “I like everything in this iPhone, iPod world where you can do everything all the time. Back in my time, you bought a vinyl record when you were a kid and took it home, and it took a bit of effort to actually get it out of the thing and not scratch it.” We have to agree with you there Rick, it’s pretty useful!
Stock photo of iPhones

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What are your memories of Rick Astley? How many times have you tried to do that dance? Please do let us know with a comment, and be sure to share this post with your fellow 80s kids, so they too can take a nostalgic look back at this 80s singing legend!