Richard Paul Astley is a British entertainer, most known for his 1987 sensation “Never Gonna Give You Up” which was the subject of rick-rolling. He recieved a Brit Award for Best Single in 1988 for his hit and a “Best Act Ever” Award at the 2008 MTV EMAs upon its re-emergence into popularity.
Born in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire on February 6, 1966, Astley’s first taste of music came at the age of 10 and he became known as a drummer throughout school before dropping out at age 16. He played for a local live act entitled “FBI” (with future Conservative Party politician David Morris as guitarist) that gained popularity around London. Astley, a huge admirer of Nat King Cole soon moved to lead vocalist by the time the group garnered the interest of Pete Waterman, a record executive and 1/3 of the Scott-Aitken-Waterman production trio. Waterman hired a 19 year-old Astley as a gofer (assistant) and Morris as a songwriter at his PWL (Pete Waterman, Limited) Studios. He used this time to pull Astley out of his ‘shyness’ and secured them both a contract with RCA Records.
“When You Gonna” with fellow PWL protégé Lisa Carter was his debut release, but it found little success and received no promotion; it was Lisa’s only official output. His first solo release, “Never Gonna Give You Up”, was dropped on July 28, 1987, and turned Astley into an international star. It topped 24 different charts and moved nearly 2 Million copies. Astley’s debut album Whenever You Need Somebody found similar success – it collected Gold or Platinum certifications in 10 different regions, including Platinum 4x in the United Kingdom.