Meet Robert Palmer [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]
Robert Allen Palmer was born in England on January 19, 1949. He was a singer-songwriter/musician, known for a diverse mix of musical styles on his albums, as he combined soul, jazz, rock, pop, reggae and blues. He found success both in his solo career and with the “Power Station.”
Influenced as a child by blues, soul and jazz music on American Forces Radio, 15 year old Robert Palmer joined his first band, “The Mandrakes,” while still at Scarborough Boys’ High School.
His first major break came in 1969, when Palmer was invited to London to sing on the single “Gypsy Girl,” by “The Alan Bown Set.”
In 1970, Palmer joined the 12-piece jazz-rock fusion band “Dada,” featuring singer Elkie Brooks. This band lasted a year.
Brooks and Palmer then formed the critically acclaimed (but commercially unsuccessful) R&B group “Vinegar Joe.”
Palmer sang and played rhythm guitar. Signed by Island Records, they released three albums: Vinegar Joe (1972), Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies (1972) and Six Star General (1973). The band broke up in 1974.
Robert Palmer signed a solo recording deal with Island Records in 1974.
His first solo album “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” was recorded in New Orleans.
Both the album and single reached the Top 100 in the U.S.
Relocating from London to New York with his wife, Palmer released “Pressure Drop” in November 1975.
An album combining his interests in reggae and rock, it was noticed more for its cover art of a naked girl on a balcony, than any commercially successful songs.
With the failure of the follow-up album “Some People Can Do What They Like,”
Palmer moved to Nassau, Bahamas.
In 1978, Robert Palmer released “Double Fun,” a collection of Caribbean-influenced rock.
The single “Every Kinda People” went to #16 on the Billboard charts.
Palmer’s next album concentrated on rock! “Secrets” produced his second Top 20 single (and one of Jersey’s Favorite Hits): “Bad Case Of Loving You” (#14/1979).
The early 1980’s brought several albums, and catchy videos…but only the song “You Are In My System” would chart (#78/1983).
In 1985, the band “Duran Duran” went on hiatus…and guitarist Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor joined up with former “Chic” drummer Tony Thompson, and Robert Palmer, to form “Power Station.”
The album, recorded mainly at New York City’s “Power Station” recording studio, reached the Top 10 in the US. It spun off two hit singles (both becoming Jersey’s Favorite Hits):
“Some Like It Hot” (#6/1985)..
…and a cover version of the T. Rex song “Get It On (Bang A Gong),” landing at #9 on the charts in 1985.
Robert Palmer performed live with the band only once, on “Saturday Night Live.” The band toured, and played “Live Aid” with singer Michael Des Barres, after Palmer bowed out to return to the recording studio, to further his solo career.
Some critics called Palmer’s actions unprofessional. Later, some would say that his solo hits sounded like Power Station songs. Palmer responded in the press saying: “Listen, I gave The Power Station that sound. They took it from me, not the other way around.”
Palmer recorded the “Riptide” album in 1985.
“Addicted To Love” would go to #1 in early 1986. The song also nabbed Palmer the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
The followup single, “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On,” went to #9 on the charts.
Bothered by a rising crime rate in Nassau, Palmer moved to Switzerland in 1987, and set up his own recording studio.
The 1988 album “Heavy Nova,” brought Palmer back into the radio/video/TV spotlight.
“Simply Irresistible” went to #2 (for 2 weeks) in 1988.
The song would win Palmer a second Grammy Award, and it would be his last Top 10 record in America.
Rolling Stone Magazine magazine voted Palmer the best-dressed rock star of 1990!
That year, Palmer would release a cover version of Marvin Gaye’s 1970’s hit “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” It went to #16 in the spring of 1991.
Throughout the 1990’s, Robert Palmer experimented with different “sounds.”
For example, the 1992 album “Ridin’ High” ended up being a tribute to the music of the “Tin Pan Alley” era!
1992 brought sustained interest Palmer’s solo career…with the release of …
“Addictions, Volume 2.”
A new “Power Station” album, “Living In Fear” was released in 1996.
1997 brought the first of many “Greatest Hits” albums…
In his personal life, Robert Palmer was married in 1974 to Shelly Putman. They had three children together: Anthony, Anna and Martin, and divorced in 1978. The following year, Palmer married Susan Eileen Thatcher. They had two children together: James and Jane, before divorcing in 1989.
In 1993 Palmer permanently relocated from the Bahamas to a Lugano, Switzerland, after the islands had become overrun with drugs and guns, and were no longer safe. He became a naturalized citizen of Switzerland in 1993, and lived there until his death.
On September 26, 2003, Robert Palmer died in Paris at the Hôtel Warwick Champs-Elysees rue de Berri, from a heart attack. He was 54.
Among those who paid tribute were “Duran Duran,” saying: “He was a very dear friend and a great artist. This is a tragic loss to the British music industry.”