Suave, sophisticated, well versed in jazz and R&B classics, yet still capable of rocking – the great Robert Palmer had it all. Born Jan. 19, 1949, Palmer came into popularity in the 1970s, making classic albums like 1974’s Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley and hit singles like “Every Kinda People” (1978) and “Bad Case of Loving You” (1979).
The ‘80s were when he truly thrived, churning out bigger hits and making an impact on popular culture with memorable videos that showed off his fashion sense and smooth stage presence. Let’s take a listen to some of those great songs and remember the man who made them.
“Looking for Clues”: There’s a definite new wave sensibility all through Palmer’s 1980 album Clues, and nowhere is that more apparent than on this quasi-title track. Think Talking Heads with Palmer singing; Heads drummer Chris Frantz even contributes percussion.
“Some Guys Have All the Luck”: Though Rod Stewart would have a bigger hit with this song, it’s difficult to get Palmer’s take out of your head once you’ve heard it. Switching on a dime from grunt to falsetto, Palmer has a unique approach to the material, and it results in a special record.
The Power Station, “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”: Though it lacks the swagger of T. Rex’s original, this version of “Get It On” hits hard, with a muscular groove, thanks in no small part to drummer Tony Thompson (of CHIC fame) and Duran Duran’s Andy and John Taylor. Palmer, of course, sounds like Palmer, debonair as ever.
“Addicted to Love”: Might as well face it – this was a massive hit, with a video that placed Palmer dead-center in MTV-influenced pop culture, a moment that was often imitated (hello, Shania Twain) but never truly replicated.
"I Didn't Mean to Turn You On": An R&B hit for Cherelle in 1984, this cut gave Palmer a No. 2 pop hit a year and change later.
“Simply Irresistible”: Palmer takes the “Addicted to Love” blueprint and turns it on its ear, making it louder and harder, ratcheting up the tempo as he goes. The mid-song breakdown (“She’s unavoidable, I'm backed against the wall …”) is a perfect touch, and Eddie Martinez’s guitar solo just shreds. Fantastic radio fodder.