For me, as a pop culture fundi, there can be no compromise on this one. Rick Astley is my be all and end all when it comes to pop music, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! He was my teenage crush deluxe, he was to me what Justin Bieber is to the screaming mass of teenage girls today. It’s got something to do with when you first become a teenager – you fall in love, and there’s nothing you can do about it, no matter who thinks who is cheesy and uncool – if you adore your idol, then you adore them.
Look closely at the pic I’ve shared here. I’ve shared a lot of pics with signatures on them, but not all of them have been signed specially for me. This one, Rick sent to me back in 1989!
Something about Rick Astley though. A promise he makes is a promise he keeps (yes, I know, it’s from a TV jingle). He never did give us up, run around or desert us. He took a break from music – it’s well known that he said he became fatigued with the travelling, the crazy bustling life when he was at the height of his fame, and the allure of his baby daughter and girlfriend at home were more appealing. Now though, his daughter is grown, his wife is busy with her own career, and he has been making music again, the most recent being a duet he recorded with Kim Wilde of Kids In America fame – a remake of the classic Christmas carol Winter Wonderland. If anyone knows where Rick finds his Elixir of Youth, please let me know as well!
As part of Stock Aitken and Waterman, who were known for good reason as “The Hit Factory,” and wrote and produced artists such as Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Bananarama, Big Fun, Mel and Kim and many many more, Rick was part of a steamroller of bubblegum pop that ruled the late 80s and early 90s. There was a headline published in South Africa’s Top 40 music magazine at the time that said “Music is a SAW point”. I loved most of SAW’s productions. I was mad for Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, and found the beats that pumped out of my radio to be happy music. However, amongst all these acts – which, let’s face it, did produce a pretty generic sound, Rick’s deep soulful voice did stand out, and he was able to find longevity which did elude a fair number of the other acts. Top 40 music magazine also wrote that although Rick looked like the typical handsome, wholesome boy next door, his voice had staying power which meant that he was GOOD.
He still is. Because of apartheid and the politics of the day I waited until 2012 to get my chance to see him live – a wonderful experience I finally got when the Rewind Tour came to South Africa. I, together with many many other fans who had also waited this duration to see him, I was like a teenager again when he came. I knew the music would be good, but there was an added surprise. I’ve seen a few shows in my time, and Rick has a stage presence and the ability to captivate an audience with his jokes and personality that’s right up there with the best. You’ve got to see him, on stage.
All of you know Never Gonna Give You Up, Whenever You Need Somebody and Together Forever. You may not know Sleeping, Keep It Turned On, One Day at a Time or any of the other many songs Rick has released over the years. You’d be well worth checking them out on iTunes and buying them. Rick’s a dark horse with many surprises in store for you.
If you want to keep up with what he’s doing on a day to day basis, check out his official website. And if you’re in London you can catch him every Sunday on his own radio show on Magic!
Part of the premise of this blog is to celebrate the golden thread of humanity which every artist, musician, poet, writer, etc can tweak. And for me Rick Astley’s music has been the music I’ve turned to in so many trying situations, so many desperate times – to see me through, to lift me and to carry me. It’s connected me to so many friends on the internet, friends who I now share moments in time with. We’re the Rickettes and we’re proudly so. Rickettes, this one’s for you, and that’s pure gold.
This post forms part of a blogging challenge I’m doing, and for following posts, please search this blog as well as my other blog Typewrite Transcription. Posts will come out on this blog on a Thursday, and on Typewrite Transcription on a Monday. Please comment and give me feedback.