Twenty one years ago Rick Astley had an epiphany.

At 27 years old he had sold 40 million records, had eight top ten hits, a number one hit in 25 countries and performed to a global TV audience of 100 million.

But he wasn't happy.

"I'm not really interested in fame,” says Astley. “I was going across the world shooting videos, doing TV interviews, it was like a treadmill, everything was decided for me."

So he packed it in and headed to Richmond where he has lived ever since.

But ten years ago he was lured out of retirement and began touring again.

"There's something about performing, when you're connecting with the audience,” says Astley on his return to stage.

“Once Never Going To Give You Up starts up it's down memory lane and I'm famous again for 15 minutes.

“When I'm up on stage it means as a middle aged man I get to pretend I'm not for a night."

Surrey Comet: Rick Astley at Haydock Park

Rick Astley says performing lets him "pretend I'm not middle aged"

Now he's going team up with fellow eighties star Jason Donavon for this summer's Hampton Court Palace Festival.

"Hampton Court's a bit special really,” says Astley.

“Some places stick in your mind, a field is a field, an arena is an arena; but Hampton Court - Hampton Court has atmosphere."

Astley came back into the public conscience in a big way on 2008, when an internet prank on April Fool's Day became a full blown international phenomonon known as "Rickrolling".

Pranksters would upload hyperlinks seemingly relevant to a given topic and instead be directed to the YouTube video of Astley's hit.  

Astley himself has always been good natured about the craze, and says it has never caused him any problems.

"I get no hassle from fans, I can be on the drive at home, whistling Never Give You Up, and no one will recognise me," he says.

Despite jetting off for a mini tour of South America at the end of this month, Astley insists it's not all glamour.

"I was playing a gig in a church basement in Richmond with my band the Luddites and I had to break up a fight,” he says.

“There were two men fighting in the audience. I couldn't believe it, two men in leafy middle class Richmond, fighting in church."

Rick Astley and Jason Donovan, Hampton Court Palace Festival; Hampton Court Palace Friday, June 20, 9pm (doors open 5.30pm) £35 to £40 (booking fee £7)

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