Way back in the day ... I'm talking WAY BACK. I had a little crush on Rick Astley. Now, anyone who knows me knows that my crushes run the entire celebrity spectrum. Cybill Sheperd on Moonlighting; Bruce Willis on Moonlighting, to any number of other crushes. It's fairly late and for the life of me I can't seem to remember anyone else I had a crush on at the moment. I'm sure when I hit the sack, they'll all come flooding back.
My Astley crush was a little unlikelyl however. Unlikely because, well, of the guys I've had crushes on, and yes, I still can't recall them all, I can't seem to think of any who weren't dark haired, or didn't sport a five-o-clock shadow.
And then came Rick.
When I first heard Astley I thought, like so many others, that he must have been at least in his mid 30s if not older. I was pretty shocked to learn he was 21 years old at the time his first single, Never Gonna Give You Up topped the charts in the United States. That single was soon followed by Together Forever, It Would Take A Strong, Strong Man and so many others. In fact, Astley is credited with at least 13 world-wide top 30 hits.
When I caught my first look at him I really had trouble pairing the face with the voice; that voice that sounded so bluesy, so strong and so deep. And here it was coming from a kid really, with shocking red hair combed in a little boufant, pale skin and slight in stature but dressed like a matinee idol with looks and a smile to match.
Then, just as soon as he appeared on the scene, he dissapeared.
Music changed as it always does, and so did the times, but I never forgot about Astley, I just wondered where he went. And, like most celebrities, he didn't go anywhere. He just had a life to life that didn't include appearing on my television set from time to time.
He had released some other albums after his initial success, changed producers and while he had some success, he was doing things as he wanted. And one of those included having a child.
He's said in interviews that he took a break from music to raise his daughter, along with her mother, away from the spotlight of fame. That the most important thing to him was being there for his child and that music could wait. He also said that because he had done so well in the business, he was able to leave it. Odd comment, but it makes sense. He had made enough money that he didn't need to keep recording just to record. He would return when he felt like he has something to say, or more appropriately something to sing. And he has.
In 2005 Astley release Portrait, a collection of covers and, as you can imagine, they're all pretty great. But maybe, for me anyway, the most amazing thing isn't the fact that his voice is as deep and resonent as ever, but it's his face. He doesn't seem to have aged a day.
While he looks remarkably the same, is it possible that he's even more handsome now? He does have a more mature look about him. The big, oversized suits have given way to a form fitting tailored coat and tie. But the hair, the smile, the face and yes, the voice are still Rick.
And you know what? I think I've got me another Rick Astley crush going on.