September 6, 2003 – Robert Allen Palmer was born 19 January 1949 in Batley, Yorkshire, England. He was known for his distinctive voice and the eclectic mix of musical styles on his albums, combining soul, jazz, rock, pop, reggae and blues.
He found success both in his solo career and in the supergroup Power Station, and had Top 10 songs in both the US and the UK. His iconic music videos for the hits “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love“, featured identically dressed dancing women with pale faces, dark eye makeup and bright red lipstick. Sharp-suited, his involvement in the music industry commenced in the 1960s, covered five decades and included a spell with Vinegar Joe. Among other awards he was a two time Grammy Award winner with “Addicted To Love” and for “Simply Irresistible”.
The singer was raised on the island of Malta until the age of 19. He was a member of several English bands when he was in his early 20s, among them the Alan Bown Set and Dada, a 12-member soul band whose sound would help shape Palmer’s style as a solo artist. Palmer quit the group in 1973 to release his solo debut, 1974’s Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, which featured members of the American rock band Little Feat and the funk group the Meters.
He experimented with a reggae sound on 1975’s Pressure Drop but returned to a more rock-oriented groove on 1979’s Secrets, which featured his first hit single, “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor).” He latched onto the new wave sound in 1980 on Clues with some help from singer Gary Numan, best known for his hit “Cars,” and the Talking Heads’ Chris Frantz. The album spawned another hit, “Looking for Clues,” which was accompanied by a low-budget video in which Palmer frolicked with oversized telephones and keyboards. The clip was an early staple on MTV.
Palmer formed the band Power Station with Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Andy Taylor and ex-Chic drummer Tony Thompson in 1985. The band scored two top-10 hits with the new wave funk song “Some Like It Hot” and a dance-influenced cover of T. Rex’s classic rocker “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” Palmer quit the group on the eve of a major tour and recorded his 1985 solo album, Riptide, a disc that would bring him his biggest success.
One of the first old-school artists to truly make it big via glossy videos, Palmer dressed up in a suit and surrounded himself with an army of slick-haired, ruby-lipped female backup performers for the clips to the driving rock and soul songs “Addicted to Love” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.”
He died in a Paris hotel room on September 26, 2003 of a sudden heart attack, according to his manager. He was 54