Good Morning
Good Morning

Rick Astley set to play The Paramount in Huntington

Rick Astley says he started working on new

Rick Astley says he started working on new music as a way of marking his 50th birthday in 2016. Credit: Ignacio Galvez

Rick Astley is as shocked as anyone by his unexpected comeback success.

When the “Never Gonna Give You Up” singer retired in 1993, at the age of 27, following a string of hits and album sales of more than 40 million, he thought the era where he could top the pop charts was over.

Astley, 52, says he started working on new music for himself, as a way of marking his 50th birthday in 2016. “It was a way of almost testing myself and seeing if I still had something to give,” says Astley, calling from his home outside London. “I started making the record and made most of it before I played it for anybody. . . . My wife [Lene] believes in me anyway — a she’s been managing me for a few years — and she said, ‘You should do something with this.’ ”

Lene was right. Astley’s “50” (BMG) became his first No. 1 album in 29 years, since his debut “Whenever You Need Somebody.”

“I think in this country with ‘50,’ there was a bit of empathy,” Astley says, laughing. “I think people were going, ‘Yeah, great, instead of buying a Harley-Davidson and going across Europe or America, he’s made a record. That’s his midlife crisis. We’ll take a listen.’” (For the record, Astley doesn’t see “50” as his midlife crisis. “I play drums in a band — now that’s a midlife crisis — because we’re a power rock trio and we do punk songs,” he says. “We ignore the fact that we’re too old to be doing it, really.”)

However, the connection fans forged with “50” singles like “Keep Singing” and “Angels on My Side” — which have more in common with Sam Smith’s new material than Astley’s days with Stock Aitken Waterman — was far deeper than empathy, especially after he went on tour, including his first American dates since 1989.

“I did the biggest gigs I’ve had in years,” he says. “To have people singing along with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ and ‘Together Forever,’ I get that. I understand that. But having them sing some of the new songs with me as well, that was almost tear-inducing. It was amazing. I never thought I’d ever experience that again.”

The huge response encouraged Astley to keep going, recently wrapping up the follow-up to “50” and launching a new American tour, which includes a stop at The Paramount in Huntington on Tuesday, April 17.

“I did the new album the same way I did the last one — all at home,” he says. “I’m not a great musician. I would never stand up in a bar and just start rolling off Beatles songs. I’m just not like that. But give me a dark room and enough time and space, and I’ll make a record. That’s what I’ve done this time again. I wrote it all, played it all and produced it.”

Astley says there’s been no planning beyond making the best songs he could, since that’s what worked the last time, and keeping expectations in check. “All this has almost been like a freak bizarre occurrence,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”

It’s similar to the way Astley has treated his internet success, as part of the bit of jokey misdirection called “Rick rolling.”

“I got some really good advice from our daughter when it first started happening,” Astley says. “That was: ‘It’s not actually about you. . . . Don’t get hung up on it either way. Don’t try and use it. It does what it does.’ I’m grateful for it, if I’m honest. It’s allowed me to do a few things that, under normal circumstances, you couldn’t even make up in a dream.”

That includes the time the Obama White House “Rick rolled” its Twitter followers and when he joined the Foo Fighters onstage in Japan for a live “Rick roll,” starting with a “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that morphed into “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

“The Foo Fighters!” Astley says, laughing. “How is that going to happen?”

In his own show, Astley likes to take risks as well, covering songs from Bruno Mars and Rihanna. “I’ll be in the car and a song comes on the radio and it stops me in my tracks,” he says. “Every now and then, I’ll have go at playing that live and I know I shouldn’t do it sometimes, but what the hell. I’m not doing it in a serious, competitive way. I am not competing with Bruno Mars, But I like singing his songs.”

For Astley, who is celebrating the 30th anniversary of topping the charts in America with “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever” this year, the key is simply to just enjoy the unpredictability of it all.

“It’s tough for young artists, even after having some success, to go and repeat it,” Astley says. “To dig someone up like me and have repeat success is almost — almost — impossible.”

WHO Rick Astley

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, The Paramount, Huntington

INFO $15-$35; 800-745-3000,


In the mid-’80s and early ’90s, Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman ruled the pop charts with their upbeat dance style that became so distinctive it was known as the Stock Aitken Waterman sound. While Rick Astley’s success with them may have marked its peak, that sound launched and revived the careers of numerous artists, including Bananarama (“Venus”) and Donna Summer (“This Time I Know It’s for Real.”) Here’s a look:

Dead or Alive

BIO Singer Pete Burns mixed elements of goth and new wave to craft an attention-grabbing androgynous look that SAW used to land their breakthrough single.

BIGGEST HIT “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” (No. 11, 1985)

CURRENTLY Burns died of cardiac arrest in 2016.

Kylie Minogue

BIO Minogue was starring on the Australian soap opera “Neighbours” when she started recording with SAW in 1987 and immediately became a success with “I Should Be So Lucky.”

BIGGEST HIT “The Loco-Motion” (No. 3, 1988)

CURRENTLY Released her 14th album “Golden” earlier this month

Samantha Fox

BIO After becoming known as a teenage model, Fox played up her sexy side to become a singer, breaking through with “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)” in 1985, she enlisted SAW for her next album.

BIGGEST HIT “Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)” (No. 3, 1988)

CURRENTLY Fox released a new single, “Hot Boy,” in April. — GLENN GAMBOA

More Entertainment