RICK ASTLEY shot to overnight fame in 1987, aged 21, with hit single Never Gonna Give You Up.
For the first six months of his career he had a single in the UK top 40 every week and achieved worldwide stardom.
The youngest of four children, he spent his childhood singing in a church choir. He joined a band called FBI as drummer and graduated to lead singer.
They linked up with producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who gave Rick his apprenticeship in the record industry.
Other hits included Whenever You Need Somebody, a cover of Nat King Cole’s, When I Fall in Love, and My Arms Keep Missing You. Then in 1993 he decided to retire.
Rick will be appearing at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle as part of the Here and Now tour on May 18. For tickets, costing £34.50, call 0844-493 6666.
PETE WATERMAN famously says you were bigger than Madonna and could still be if you had not retired so early. Why did you retire?
The only reason Pete Waterman said that is because he is slightly mad.
I did outsell every other artist who released an album one year and that included Madonna but to say I could still be bigger than her now isn’t true.
She has gone beyond being a popstar and is now an icon. I retired early because I was becoming sick of travelling and being away from my family. I wanted to see my daughter grow up.
I also developed a fear of flying and hated having to spend my life getting on and off planes.
WHY have you started to perform again?
Because I enjoy it. Even after I stepped down from the public eye I would always sing at friends’ weddings and events like that. I had been approached by the guy who does the Here and Now tours in previous years and always said “No”.
However, when he gave me an offer to go to Japan I jumped at the chance. Going to Japan is like going to the moon. I had been there before when I was younger. It is completely different and I love the experience.
HOW did you first get into the music industry?
I got into the industry pretty much the same way as everyone else. I was in a band and we thought we were good enough to get a recording contract so we started to approach companies and management. Along the way I got signed up.
IF you hadn’t been a musician what would you have done for a living?
I had only ever wanted to be a musician. My family owned a garden centre so I guess if music had not worked out I would have gone to work for my dad in some role.
WHAT advice would you give to someone wanting to get a recording contract?
Get a good manager who believes in you as a person for the music you create rather than what you can be marketed as to the public.
That would be my advice, but there are a number of artists out there now who are shunning management and building up a following on websites such as MySpace . . . so perhaps the best advice has changed since my day.
WHEN you’re not working what do you do to relax?
I live near a big park and I love riding my bike so I spend quite a bit of time on it. Also I am a big film fan. My wife works in the film industry. It sound a bit boring saying I enjoy watching films because basically you are admitting you like sitting down watching television.
HOW often do you get recognised in the street?
It depends on whether I am sporting a quiff. If I have a quiff and I am not wearing my glasses then I get recognised quite a lot. There are times I can go for a month without anyone stopping me and then the following day I get stopped six times.
WHAT do you think of the music charts today?
I think there are some really good independent bands out there producing some good rock. It’s not a great time for pop though. There are some things I like a lot and others which don’t really grab my attention.
WHAT have you found to be the drawbacks of fame?
When you are famous you can go to any restaurant without booking and be guaranteed that you will get a good table, even if the place is full.
The problem though is that once you have that table you are bugged by people coming up to you and you can’t enjoy your meal in peace and quiet. I much prefer these days having to wait for a table and being able to enjoy an evening out.
DO you ever regret walking away from it all?
Not for one moment. I wanted to be a singer. I enjoyed the job I did and part of the trappings of fame which went with it. But I wanted to be able to turn fame on and off like a tap.
I wanted to go to work and then come back and not be hassled by photographers. Part of being famous is that you give up a degree of your private life. When I mentioned earlier Madonna being an icon, part of being an icon is that you no longer are a normal person.