Meet Power Station [PHOTOS/VIDEOS]
Power Station is a 1980’s “supergroup” named after the recording studio where their albums were recorded!
Why “supergroup” status? The band was made up of singer Robert Palmer, former Chic drummer Tony Thompson, plus Duran Duran’s guitarists John Taylor and Andy Taylor! Chic’s Bernard Edwards produced the recordings in the studio, and also acted as Power Station’s manager. Later, when John Taylor left the band, Edwards played bass on the group’s second album.
Power Station formed in New York City in late 1984…during a break in Duran Duran’s schedule.
After “Seven And The Ragged Tiger,” the members of Duran Duran went on a short, planned, hiatus. They essentially became two groups: “Arcadia,” maintaining the melodic Duran Duran sound…and Power Station, which took on a harder, funkier rock edge.
The evolving group began on a whim…it was a one-time gathering of buddies providing background for model and would-be singer Bebe Buell, who wanted to record her own version of T. Rex’s “Get It On (Bang A Gong).”
The Taylor brothers wanted a break from the Duran Duran sound…and were eager to play some Led Zeppelin-style rock. Their Chic-idol’s horn-heavy, funky sound worked well with the hard rock guitar riffs and drums.
Soon, the one-time gathering morphed into a new one-album project, with both of the Taylors, and Edwards, providing musical continuity…with a different singer on each song! The tentative name for the band? “Big Brother.” The guys approached Mick Jagger and Billy Idol, among others.
The group asked Robert Palmer to record the vocals for the song “Communication.” When he heard that they had recorded demos for “Get it On (Bang A Gong),” Palmer asked to tackle vocals on that song as well!
Before long, the decision was made to record the whole album with Robert Palmer…
The new band quickly signed with Capitol Records.
On February 16, 1985, the band performed “Some Like It Hot,” and “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” on Saturday night Live. This was the only time that Robert Palmer performed live with the original lineup!
“The Power Station” album hit record store shelves in March 1985. It was a big seller…landing at #6 on the Album Charts.
The album is sometimes referred to as “Power Station 33 & 1/3,” as the sleeve for the original vinyl record bore that title (the vinyl album rotation speed on a turntable).
Above: Later Compact Disc issues used the “CD” subtitle (of course).
The first single “Some Like It Hot” went to #6 (1985).
“Get It On (Bang a Gong” rose to #9 (1985).
Interestingly, the song that brought Robert Palmer to the attention of Power Station, “Communication,” barely cracked the Top 30 (#34/1985).
The band also released a Video EP , video clips, behind-the-scenes interviews, and more (above and below).
Power Station’s unexpected success led to two results…that did not work well together: First, the band decided to headline a U.S. tour that summer, along with Paul Young, Nik Kershaw, and OMD. Second, Robert Palmer decided to record a solo album, taking advantage of his new-found name recognition.
Robert Palmer quit Power Station.
Tony Thompson, Andy Taylor and Bernard Edwards all contributed to Palmer’s very successful 1985 solo album “Riptide.”
With Palmer’s departure, Power Station recruited singer/actor Michael Des Barres for the tour. He also played with the guys at the “Live Aid” concert in Philadelphia in July 1985.
De Barre’s connections led to the band appearing in a “Miami Vice” episode.
They also wrote “We Fight For Love,” on the “Commando” film soundtrack (1985).
Power Station would power down in late 1985…with the individual members returning to their own projects.
John Taylor returned to Duran Duran.
Andy Taylor left Duran Duran, to focus on a solo career.
Tony Thompson was ready to join a reformed Led Zeppelin, but after a few days of rehearsal, he was seriously injured in a 1986 auto accident! The reunion never happened.
Robert Palmer continued his successful solo career.
De Barres released his second solo album in 1986.
WAIT…did someone say Power Station reunion?
After 10 years apart, Robert Palmer, Andy Taylor, John Taylor and Tony Thompson started working together on a new album!
Sadly, personal issues forced John Taylor to leave the project before any recording took place.
Producer Bernard Edwards (as mentioned earlier) stepped in as bassist on “Living In Fear” (1996).
Edwards was ready to tour with Power Station, but he died suddenly during a trip to Japan.
Power Station went on with the tour, with various session musicians helping out.
As the tour was only moderately successful…Power Station disbanded permanently.
Both Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson died in late 2003.
The Power Station lives on, as their music is a part of 1980’s compilations, “Best Of” CDs…and plays on New Jersey 101.5!