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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Obituary: Robert Palmer
Robert Palmer
Palmer provided some enduring images
The famous video featuring a clutch of gloss-lipped, black mini-skirted deadpan models posing as backing band to the song Addicted to Love, is the late Robert Palmer's most enduring image.

And he went on to become something of a 1980s icon, with his slick style prompting much imitation.

It was the high point in a career which had begun in the 1960s. Palmer was brought up in Malta where his father was serving as a British naval officer.

He returned to Britain as a teenager and joined a group called the Alan Bown Set. This was followed by some success with the group Vinegar Joe alongside singer Elkie Brooks. After three successful albums, Palmer went solo.

With his impeccable suits and slicked-back hair, Robert Palmer had a 1974 hit with the Allen Toussaint song, Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley.

Robert Palmer
His crooning proved especially popular during the 1980s
It confirmed his status as a blue-eyed soul singer. Among the backing musicians on his 1975 Pressure Drop album were members of cult American band, Little Feat.

A move to the Bahamas to record the albums Double Fun and Secrets brought him success with singles Every Kinda People and A Bad Case of Lovin' You.

By 1982 he managed to achieve his biggest hit in Britain with Some Guys Have All the Luck.

Three years later, a side project, Power Station, saw him team up with John and Andy Taylor of Duran Duran. The group scored three US Top 10 hits with Some Like It Hot, Communications and Get It On.

Palmer continued this slick rock image in Addicted To Love and I Didn't Mean To Turn You On. It offended some feminists but brought Palmer greater popularity.

Varied style

However, he was not interested in the trappings of rock star fame.

"I loved the music, but the excesses of rock music never really appealed to me at all," he said. "I couldn't see the point in getting up in front of a lot of people when you weren't in control of your wits."

Robert Palmer moved with his family to Switzerland 16 years ago and stayed away from the celebrity limelight. He contributed to the film Sweet Lies before releasing Heavy Nova with its hits, Simply Irresistible and Early in the Morning.

His style became more varied, ranging from bossa nova to ballad crooning. He had success, in collaboration with UB40, with Bob Dylan's I'll Be Your Baby Tonight.


It was a Top 10 hit, as was his Marvin Gaye song, Mercy Mercy Me. The influence of the music of African singer King Sunny Ade was evident on his Honey album, and a resurgent love of the blues led to the 1999 album, Rhythm and Blues and his recently released album, Drive, on which he played many of the instruments.

By crossing several musical genres over a long period of time, and by eschewing the celebrity circus, Robert Palmer never had an enormous following, but he was highly respected both for the songs he sang, and the sincere, yet often understated way in which he sang them.

Palmer, who was divorced, is survived by Mary Ambrose, his partner of 20 years, and two children, Jim and Jane.

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