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Rick Astley: ‘I’m boring away from the spotlight – that’s why my life works’

Being 10 years younger than my older siblings meant I was bombarded with music from a young age. My older sister, Jane, and brother, John, played records relentlessly. My sister was obsessed with Motown, but also prog rock. The first band I ever saw live was Supertramp.

My dad ran a little garden centre and it made me realise that if you run your own business, you can run your own life. I inherited his work ethic. We all worked at his garden centre after school and at weekends. I was never frightened of getting my hands dirty, often literally.

My parents divorced when I was five and it had a huge impact on me. We lived at my dad’s house for a bit, because my mum had a breakdown. She had five children in total. The middle one, David, died of meningitis. I think she’d had enough and went to live at my grandma’s. The whole experience left me scarred. It made me realise anything can happen at any time and you can’t even rely on the biggest thing you want to count on: your parents being there for you.

The internet gave Never Gonna Give You Up a second life. There’s a generation of people whose kids are saying to them, “Oh, I love this tune,” and the parents are going, “How do you even know who this bloke is?”

was surreal. The first time it happened was at a festival in Japan. Dave Grohl had seen I was on the bill on another stage and, when they were playing, suddenly invited me on to sing Never Gonna Give You Up. I was a bit jet lagged and I’d had a few beers. Then I’m singing my song in front of tens of thousands of people.

I’m pretty boring away from the spotlight, but that’s why my life works. When I’m in the spotlight, I’m full of adrenaline and emotion. When I’m off stage, my favourite thing to do is to go for a walk.

My ambition for the future is to remain sane. Seriously. My plan to achieve this is by doing less.

One of the pitfalls of a pop career is that you do something exciting and then think, “We have to do it again – but with more lights.” Some artists can do that. Others need to take stock. I think one of the keys to sanity is having a sense of perspective. It can’t all be Glastonbury.

I can guarantee that Never Gonna Give You Up will not be played at my funeral. I certainly won’t be playing it and I don’t think anyone else will be playing it either. I don’t even know if I want to be remembered. I think the music almost lives in its own world. I’d prefer to be remembered for being a decent person.

Rick Astley’s new album, Are We There Yet?, is out now. He’s performing at this summer’s Latitude festival