Soulful rock singer Robert Palmer died early Friday morning of a heart attack in Paris at age 54, according to the Associated Press. Palmer, known for the highly stylized video looks of such Ď80s hits as "Simply Irresistible" and "Addicted to Love," was born Alan Palmer in Batley, England on January 19, 1949 and raised on the island of Malta until the age of 19.
He was a member of several English bands in his early 20s, among them the Alan Bown Set and Dada, a 12-member soul band whose sound would help shape Palmerís style as a solo artist. Palmer quit the group in 1973 to release his solo debut, 1974ís Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley, which featured members of the American rock band Little Feat and the funk group the Meters.
He experimented with a reggae sound on 1975ís Pressure Drop, but returned to a more rock-oriented groove on 1979's Secrets, which featured his first hit single, "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)." He latched onto the new wave sound in 1980 on Clues with some help from "Cars" singer Gary Numan and the Talking Headsí Chris Frantz. The album spawned another hit, "Looking For Clues," which was accompanied by a low-budget video in which Palmer frolicked with oversized telephones and keyboards. The clip was an early staple of MTV.
Palmer formed the band Power Station with Duran Duranís John and Andy Taylor and ex-Chic drummer Tony Thompson in 1985. The band scored two top 10 hits with the new wave funk song "Some Like It Hot" and a dance-influenced cover of T. Rexís classic rocker, "Bang a Gong (Get It On)." Palmer quit the group on the eve of a major tour and recorded his 1985 solo album Riptide, a disc that would bringing his biggest success.
One of the first old school artists to truly ride the wave of success via slick videos, Palmer dressed up in a suit and surrounded himself with an army of slick haired, ruby lipped female backup performers for the clips to the driving rock and soul songs "Addicted to Love" and "I Didnít Mean to Turn You On."
He stuck with the formula for 1988ís Heavy Nova, which featured one of his biggest hits, the urgent rocker "Simply Irresistible," whose clip again featured his harem of similarly dressed video vixens. 1990ís Donít Explain failed to connect with audiences and Palmerís output began to slow through the 90s. He released a 1992 album of standards, Ridiní High, followed by the eclectic Honey in 1994, which featured the guitar histrionics of Extremeís Nuno Bettencourt
, some world music influences and a cover of Devoís "Girl U Want."
After an ill-conceived reunion with Power Station in 1996, he released the slick pop album Rhythm & Blues in 1999. A concert album recorded in 2000 at the venerable Apollo Theater in New York, Live at the Apollo, was released in 2003, followed by an album of blues covers, Drive, which was released in May. At press time, it was not known if Palmer was working on any new material at the time of his death.