The Standard: Rick Astley on Morrissey, getting Rick-Rolled, and his biggest hit (November 2, 2023)

Rick Astley on Morrissey, getting Rick-Rolled, and his biggest hit


Despite sounding like a fever dream, or the result of a random event generator, their Smiths homage has obvious appeal. Not only is Astley’s booming vocal and affinity for a campily rolled R tailor-made for the endeavour, there’s also the fact that certain The Smiths fans may now prefer to enjoy the music, minus the Morrissey (he’s become a fairly divisive and controversial figure in recent years due to his support of far-right activism). Astley initially tip-toes around the subject: “Love him or loathe the guy – as people seem to do these days – you can’t deny he’s one of the most amazing lyricists ever”. How does he really feel about him?

“I read somewhere, and it’s an old phrase... separate the art from the artist,” he says. “There’s a lot of painters that were complete arseholes, and horrifically horrible people, but they created beautiful works of art that are hanging in galleries all around the world, and people who are good, upstanding, forthright, decent people go and admire that art, and don't think about whether that guy was a misogynist f**king prat, you know what I mean?

"I don't see that there's any difference from a musical artist, to a painter, sculptor, or whatever it is. I just say to myself, what they created was absolutely incredible and beautiful. I've seen a couple of Smith's tribute bands, and I must say Johnny Marr’s pretty amazing when he does it. I’ve not seen Morrissey [live] to be fair.”
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I'm not. Morrissey is 8 years older than me but he became a statue in concert. If I pay money to see a performer, they better MOVE around!

But Morrissey himself said he doesn’t ‘perform’. So I don’t know why you should expect him to.

Anyway, besides your psychoanalyst. Who do you pay to see?

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