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Robert Palmer was a Grammy Award-winning English singer-songwriter who was known for his distinctive voice and the eclectic mix of musical styles on his albums, combining soul, jazz, rock, pop, reggae and blues. He found success both in his solo career and in the musical act Power Station, and had Top 10 songs in both the US and the UK.
His iconic music videos for "Simply Irresistible" and "Addicted to Love" featured identically dressed dancing women with pale faces, dark eye makeup and bright red lipstick, which resembled the women in the art of Patrick Nagel, an artist popular in the 1980s. Sharp-suited, his involvement in the music industry commenced in the 1960s, covered five decades and included a spell with Vinegar Joe.
In 1970, Palmer and singer Elkie Brooks formed the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful rhythm and blues group, Vinegar Joe. They released three albums: Vinegar Joe, Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies and Six Star General, before disbanding in March 1974.
In 1974, Palmer's first solo album Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley was released. Although unsuccessful in the UK, both the album and single reached the Top 100 in the US. Notably, "Sailin' Shoes" (the album's first track), Palmer's own "Hey Julia" and the Allen Toussaint–penned title track carry virtually the same rhythm, and were packaged on the album as a "trilogy" without a pause between them. Palmer released Pressure Drop in November 1975, the follow-up Some People Can Do What They Like, Double Fun in 1978, which included a cover of "You Really Got Me". Double Fun reached the Top 50 on the US Billboard chart and scored a Top 20 single with "Every Kinda People". 1979's Secrets produced his second Top 20 single with Moon Martin's "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)". The #14 hit also gave Palmer his first Billboard Hot 100 year end chart hit.
The album Clues, generated hits "Johnny and Mary" and then "Looking for Clues". Catchy music videos matching the synth pop stylings of New Wave gave him much needed exposure to a younger audience. The success was repeated with the 1982 EP release of Some Guys Have All the Luck. In April 1983, Pride was released, which not as commercially successful as Clues did feature the title song and Palmer's cover of The System's "You Are In My System".
Palmer released the album Riptide which featured the US #1 and UK #5 single "Addicted to Love". The single was accompanied by a memorable and much-parodied music video, directed by Terence Donovan, in which Palmer is surrounded by a bevy of near-identically clad, heavily made-up female "musicians," either mimicking or mocking the painting of Patrick Nagel. In September 1986, Palmer performed "Addicted to Love" at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. In 1987, he won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for "Addicted to Love". The singles "Hyperactive!" and his cover of Cherrelle's "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" also performed well, with the latter being a #2 US and #9 UK hit single.
Heavy Nova was released in 1988, Palmer and he repeated his previous success with the video of "Simply Irresistible", again with a troupe of female "musicians". The song reached #2 in the US and was Palmer's final Top Ten hit there. The ballad "She Makes My Day" also proved to be a hit in the UK, peaking at #6. In 1989, he won a second Grammy for "Simply Irresistible", which would later be featured in the Tony Award winning musical Contact. Rolling Stone magazine voted Palmer the best-dressed rock star for 1990.
Palmer expanded his range even further for his next album, Don't Explain in 1990. It also featured the Bob Dylan penned Top 10 single "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight", that secured a #6 placing in the UK, and the Top-20 Marvin Gaye cover "Mercy Mercy Me". Throughout the 1990s, Palmer ventured further into diverse material. The 1992 album Ridin' High was a tribute to the Tin Pan Alley era.
In 1994, Palmer released Honey to mixed reviews. While the album failed to produce any hit singles in the US, he did find success in the UK with the release of three modest hit singles "Girl U Want", "Know By Now" and "You Blow Me Away".