Thirty years ago yesterday (July 28), the oddly big-voiced Rick Astley released “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Twenty years after that, the first rickrolling occurred. Wikipedia describes it thusly:
Rickrolling, alternatively rick-rolling, is a prank and an Internet meme involving an unexpected appearance of the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up“. The meme is a type of bait and switch using a disguised hyperlink. Those led to the music video believing that they were accessing some unrelated material are said to have been rickrolled
So who started all this? Again, we go to Wikipedia.
Rickrolling was reported to have begun as a variant of an earlier prank from the imageboard 4chan known as duckrolling. The director of the site, who went by the name “moot“, started replacing occurrences of the word “egg” on the site with the word “duck”. When the word “eggroll” was turned into “duckroll”, other users started changing innocent looking links going somewhere (such as to a specific picture or news item) to redirect readers to a thread or site containing an edited picture of a duck with wheels. The user at that point is said to have been “duckrolled”
The first known instance of a rickroll occurred in May 2007 on /v/, 4chan‘s video game board, where a link to the Rick Astley video was claimed to be a mirror of the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV (which was unavailable due to heavy traffic). The joke was confined to 4chan for a very brief period.
By May 2008, the practice had spread beyond 4chan and became an Internet phenomenon.
Chances are you’ve been rickrolled a few times over the years. Rolling Stone has detailed some of the best rickrolls ever, including this time the Foo Fighters pranked the Westboro Baptist Church.