One singer’s choice of a video style made a long-lasting mark on pop culture – no matter his wide range of music too: Robert Palmer.
Fueled by a love for blues, soul and jazz, Palmer joined his first band at age 15 in Yorkshire, and was soon on Dada and Vinegar Joe, where he started making his mark in the early 1970s.
By the mid-1970s he started a solo career with Island Records, and recorded albums influenced by New Orleans, New York and then the Caribbean, after moving to Nassau, Bahamas.
In 1979, he concentrated on rock again, releasing “Bad Case of Loving You” from the album Secrets, giving him his first Billboard single. But it was a fortuitous meeting in 1983 that made all the difference – Palmer met the members of Duran Duran. When the band went on hiatus, he formed Power Station with Duran Duran members Andy Taylor and John Taylor and had Tony Thompson formerly of Chic make the foursome.
Power Station recorded their album in the Bahamas and had two major singles “Some Like it Hot” and a cover of T. Rex’s “Get it On” (Bang a Gong) , both of which became top 10 singles on both sides of the Atlantic. Palmer only performed live once with this band on NBC TV’s Saturday Night Live – their gig at Live Aid he was replaced with Michael des Barres.
In 1985, Palmer released his album Riptide, also record in the Bahamas, and featured both Andy Taylor and John Taylor. The first single “Addicted to Love” became a number one hit in both the UK and North America, and was accompanied by a distinct music video, with Palmer as lead singer and his band a bevy of identically dressed and made-up women, which certainly seemed to reflect the artistic style of Patrick Nagle.
Palmer won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Male Vocal Performance in 1986 as well as performed at the MTV Video Awards with his “band”. Moving from the Bahamas to Switzerland, Palmer went back to experimenting with different musical styles for his next two albums, after making a major pop splash with Riptide, happy to create music and not be in the pop spotlight any longer.
I remember when the video was released for “Addicted to Love” – it played endlessly on MuchMusic and many other show and then became a music video that inspired many parodies. But unlike his other 1980s counterparts, Palmer didn’t have the distinctive clothes, hair or makeup – he wore an elegant dark suit and let his music and voice take precedence.
Despite Palmer’s flash as a pop superstar in the mid-1980s, his wide range of music stylings are known by true fans, but for the rest of us, its all about the man in the dark suit, fronting a bevy of women pretending to be a band.