Star interview: Rick Astley

Rick Astley will be performing at Delapre Abbey in Northampton next month
Rick Astley will be performing at Delapre Abbey in Northampton next month

More than 30 years on, 1980s pop star Rick Astley still counts himself lucky.

Gearing up for a night of playing his most popular hits at Delapre in Northampton next month, he reflected on his musical career and how, years later, he still loves to perform.

“Performing music was my life at the time, now it’s my favourite hobby,” he said.

The south Londoner was discovered by music producer Pete Waterman, when the pair played music after school together in their teens.

When Pete went on to produce records, he helped transform Astley into the musical heart-throb of the decade.

Rick said: “The record industry was still pretty huge back then.

“Pete’s label was essentially a hits factory. I joined the conveyor belt and from that moment I didn’t stop for about five years.

“It was great at the time and I will never look back, but when you are young you need to take some time to find yourself, and I started to ask myself, “Is this it?”

“So, having made a ton of money, I decided it was time to back away and focus on my new family; my wife, Lene, who worked in records, and our baby daughter, Emilie.

“I think I absolutely made the right decision at the right time.

“You don’t often get many years in the pop industry and I felt it was time to grow up and become a proper person.”

But his retreat from the limelight was by no means the end of music for Rick, who now plays drums for punk band The Luddites.

“Now I get to play the drums again, just like I loved doing when I was a kid, and I get to travel abroad doing gigs with the band.

“I’ve replaced the pop days with even better memories of being able to work with my music heroes, including American soul artists Al Green and Bill Withers, as well as Elton John. It makes me feel 15 again.

“In terms of music I like a bit of pretty much everything and I do think the modern music world has changed for the better.

“Now that everything is so accessible, people don’t have such specific tastes, and it’s even become easy to record your own music.

“But, unfortunately for them, the record labels of previous decades never saw it coming.”

But even with his new-age views, Rick is looking forward to playing his old hits for the people of Northamptonshire on July 19, including chart-topper Never Going to Give You Up.

He said: “It’s about memories and having fun. There’s no need to be pretentious about it.

“But I think it will be more nostalgic for them than it will be for me, even though I do feel quite detached from that era of my life now.

“All in all, I think that being remembered at all is no bad thing and to be remembered fondly is great.

“Of course, all the attention and success at the time did inflate my ego, but I never brought that back home.”

Despite years out of the professional business, he has never considered an alternative career.

He said: “I consider myself so lucky to have what I had that I don’t dare think about what might have been.”