Rick Astley Reenacts ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ 35 Years Later

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The 7″ sleeve for Rick Astley’s breakthrough single

No, you are not being “Rick-Rolled.” Rick Astley, the British pop singer whose #1 late-’80s hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” just about defines the phrase viral video with a staggering number of YouTube views (and has a long history as something of a good-natured punchline), has reenacted the clip for a commercial.

The original “Never Gonna Give You Up” video has exceeded one billion views on YouTube – a landmark that was achieved close to the 34th anniversary of the track’s original release on July 27, 1987. It’s one of a handful of videos from the pre-YouTube era that have reached a billion views: A-Ha’s “Take On Me,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” being notable examples.

Astley has been undergoing something of a comeback in recent years. His 2016 album, titled 50—his first new studio effort in a decade—reached #1 in the U.K. 2022 marks the 35th Anniversary of his multi-platinum selling album, Whenever You Need Somebody, that topped the album charts in the U.K., Australia, Germany and Spain and was Top 10 in many others. The original was produced by the songwriting/production trio, Stock Aitken and Waterman. Astley has curated and sequenced an expanded, new 2-CD edition, remastered at Abbey Road Studios. Its 31 tracks include the original album plus b-sides, Astley’s cover of the Nat King Cole classic “When I Fall In Love,” plus Astley’s own reimagined versions of the original singles from the album. It comes with an expanded booklet that includes previously unseen photographs from 1987/1988 and liner notes written by Craig McLean, featuring contributions from Astley, Mike Stock and Pete Waterman.

Astley was born on February 6, 1966. His 1987 debut, Whenever You Need Somebody, for RCA Records, via the Stock-Aitken-Waterman production team, was perfectly timed for radio audiences. “Never Gonna Give You Up” and the follow-up single, “Together Forever,” were each #1 pop hits.

And just in case you haven’t seen the classic video his debut smash in a while (unlikely as that is!), let us remind you of just how completely awesome it is.

Decades later, a phenomenon known as “Rickrolling” began in which Internet users clicking on a link unwittingly were shown the “Never Gonna Give You Up” video when they expected to see something else.

Astley has embraced the tactic and even references it in a recent commercial for Frito Lay.

Rick Astley, as he appeared in 1987 in the “Never Gonna Give You Up” video and in 2022 for the reenactment

Astley reenacted the 1987 video in a 2022 commercial for InsurAAAnce, right down to the various garments he wears, including a trench coat and striped shirt.

Astley has spent time creating a new buzz in the U.S. He performed his first live concert in the States in the U.S. in August 2016 in New York before hopping across the country for an L.A. gig. The former pop star is also a classic rock fan. He sang AC/DC’s signature hit “Highway to Hell” at West Hollywood’s Troubadour in Los Angeles on August 11, 2016—while playing the drums!

Prepping the Troubadour audience for his unexpected encore, Astley told the crowd, “One of the best feelings in the absolute world is to count down the song we’re about to play. Do you want to rock?” Then, with self-deprecation in his voice, he continued, “Yes, I know. Hearing me say that sounds a bit weird, but in an alternate universe this is what could be, We’re all allowed to dream, aren’t we?”

Astley continues to tour and occasionally includes “Highway to Hell” and other covers in his setlist. (Tickets are available here and here.)

Watch Astley perform “Highway to Hell” in 2021 along with U.K. rocker K.T. Tunstall

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 20 August, 2022, 08:14

    I would like to hear Rick Astley sing with Michael McDonald, doing each other’s songs…..

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