Today's Tickets @ 2 Song: "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty

Rock Flashback: Robert Palmer

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robert palmer Rock Flashback: Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer at work, 2003 (Getty Images/Giuseppe Cacace)

Few artists in rock history reinvented themselves as completely as [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Robert Palmer[/lastfm] did between the mid-’70s and the mid-’80s.

Palmer fronted a band called [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Vinegar Joe[/lastfm] in the early ’70s before releasing his first solo album, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, in 1974. He would collaborate with members of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Little Feat[/lastfm] on his first four solo albums, some of which included musical backing and/or songs by members of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]the Meters[/lastfm] and New Orleans legend [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Allen Toussaint[/lastfm]. He was established as one of the better white soul singers of the ’70s when Double Fun came out in 1978, containing the hit single “Every Kinda People.”

Palmer might have continued to plow the white-soul groove for a while, but he’d been there and done that for five albums, so his reinvention began almost immediately. The 1979 album Secrets rocked hard and had little of the loose soul feel of his previous work; in 1980, Clues, had a new wave edge and contributions from Chris Frantz of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Talking Heads[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gary Numan[/lastfm]. The 1983 album Pride was intended to be a modern R&B album, but wasn’t especially successful in the States.

In 1984, Palmer collaborated with members of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Duran Duran[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Chic [/lastfm]in [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Power Station[/lastfm], producing a memorable single in “Some Like It Hot.” The big beat of Power Station pointed the way toward Palmer’s 1985 album Riptide and the single “Addicted to Love.” The music was almost secondary to the sex appeal of its famous video, the well-dressed singer and the oddly robotic models behind him.

Palmer would revisit the theme in 1988 with “Simply Irresistable” from the Heavy Nova album. His last significant trip to the singles chart was in 1990,when a medley of two [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Marvin Gaye[/lastfm] covers, “Mercy Mercy Me” and “I Want You,” brought back the blue-eyed soul man he had been 15 years before.

This week in 2003, Palmer died of a heart attack at age 54.

Experience more Rock Flashbacks.

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