Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer

Drawing from an incredibly wide variety of styles, including soul, jazz, rock, reggae, blues, and even yodeling, the British singer Robert Palmer won praise for his skillful fusion of genres. His commercial success did not match his critical acclaim, however, until he began appearing on MTV performing his songs backed by scantily clad young women.

Robert Palmer was born Alan Palmer in 1949, he grew up on the Mediterranean island of Malta, until returning to his birthplace of Britain at the age of 19 to advance his music career. After a year of singing with the Alan Bown Set, he joined a soul group called Vinegar Joe. After releasing three records with this band, he moved on to begin his solo career, debuting in 1974 with a funky soul sound on the album Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley. In his next two albums, Pressure Drop, in 1975 and Double Fun, in 1978, he switched gears to reggae, and made his first hit, "Every Kinda People." With Secrets, in 1979, Palmer switched genres again, this time to rock.

He continued experimenting with styles, next trying synth-pop, with the album Clues, which featured the song "Looking for Clues," which became a major club hit. Never content to stick with one genre for more than one or two albums, Palmer went back to rock, scoring hits with "Some Like it Hot" and "Get it On. In 1985, the music video for "Addicted to Love" was the first of many that featured Palmer as a well-dressed lady's man surrounded by leggy models.

This new persona sold records so well that Palmer continued to cultivate it with his next few albums. By the 90's however, Palmer left the sex symbol persona behind and returned to his eclectic roots, mixing jazz standards with rock, worldbeat, and soul. He released an album titled Rhythm & Blues in 1999 to lukewarm sales, but hit success again in 2003 with the blues album Drive.

  • Palmer lived in Lugano, Switzerland for the last 15 years of his life, where he set up his own recording studio.

  • He was voted the best dressed rock star by Rolling Stone in 1990.

  • Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video, in which he performed in front of expressionless identical-looking leggy models pretending to play instruments, was so successful that it has been copied and parodied many times in the years since. Weird Al' Yankovic added mustaches and glasses to the women backing him up in his "UHF" video, and the video for Shania Twain's "Man I Fell Like a Woman" used male models in their place.

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