september is the month for dead celebrities
Robert Palmer dead at 54. He suffered a heart attack last night.
Robert Palmer pretty much defined the stylized, video-friendly music of the 80's. He's one of those artists who has MTV to thank for his fame; I believe more people were fans of his videos featuring leggy backup singers than his actual music.
He was a barely known quasi-soul singer until the 1980 release of his album Clues. Looking for Clues and Johnny and Mary were great, quirky songs that preceded the new wave explosion of the early 80's.
Following that album, he released Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley, featuring members of Little Feat, and this effort showed off his funky and soulful side, something which the Robert Palmer fans from his new wave cycle would barely even recognize.
In 1983, he released Pride, which contained the funkadelic You Are In My System, gaining him a bit of popularity.
His break came at the height of the new wave craze in 1985 with the release of Riptide, featuring Hyperactive and Addicted To Love - the song that most people associate Palmer with and the one that shot him to fame.
His next album. Heavy Nova, came out in 1988 and he garnered a hit with that one also, the catchy Simply Irresistible. At this point, his songs began to all blend into eachother, as he used the same basic formula for each subsequent hit.
In 1985 he joined up with other 80's new wave stars Michael des Barres, Andy Taylor, John Taylor, Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards to form the "super" band Power Station. They scored big with Some Like it Hot and a remake of Marc Bolan's Bang A Gong.
For those who know only of Palmer's post 1985 efforts, it would be worth your while to check out his earlier stuff and to realize that the man was more than a video star with catchy riffs.
Rest well, Mr. Palmer.
[I have no personal stories to tell about Palmer or his music except for the time we made up new words to Addicted to Love and ended up with Mike Ditka for Lunch.]