Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer (Jan. 19, 1949 — Sept. 26, 2003) was an English soul-rock singer famed for the hits “John and Mary,” “Addicted to Love,” and “Simply Irresistible.” He charted with songs originated by Andy Fraser (“Every Kinda People”), Moon Martin (“Bad Case of Loving You”), and The System (“You Are In My System”).

He got his break in The Alan Bown!, a psychedelic soul-rock ensemble that hired him for their 1969 self-titled second album. In late 1970, Palmer joined soul-rockers Dada and prompted their name-change to Vinegar Joe, which cut three 1972–73 albums on Island Records.

Palmer cut his 1974 debut solo album, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, with members of Little Feat and The Meters. He released four subsequent albums between 1975 and 1979 on Island, culminating with the breakthrough titles Double Fun and Secrets.

In 1980, he lent percussion to the album Remain In Light by Talking Heads, whose drummer, Chris Frantz, played backup on Palmer’s sixth solo release, Clues, which also features Gary Numan on a replica of the Telekon track “I Dream of Wires.” A half-live album and two further studio releases rounded out his time on Island over the ensuing lustrum, a period crowned by the popular songs and videos from his 1985 release Riptide. It directly followed his one-album stint in The Power Station, a supergroup comprised of Duran Duran and Chic alumni.


He was born Robert Allen Palmer on January 19, 1949, in Batley, West Riding of Yorkshire, to a British naval intelligence officer. He grew up in Scarborough, where he joined his first band, The Mandrakes, at age fifteen.

In 1969, he replaced Jess Roden in the Alan Bown Set, singing on their single “Gypsy Girl” and on the UK version of their second album, The Alan Bown! (replacing Roden’s original vocal tracks). The following year, Palmer replaced singer Paul Korda in the twelve-piece brass-rock-soul ensemble Dada, led by singer Elkie Brooks and her guitarist husband Pete Gage.

In 1971, Palmer, Brooks, and Gage formed the soul-rock sextet Vinegar Joe, which released three albums on Island: Vinegar Joe and Rock’n’Roll Gypsies (both 1972) and Six Star General (1973). Palmer’s suave image contrasted the era’s scruffy rock archetype.

When Vinegar Joe disbanded in March 1974, Palmer resigned to Island as a solo artist.

Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley

Robert Palmer released his debut solo album, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, in September 1974 on Island.

Pressure Drop

Robert Palmer released his second solo album, Pressure Drop, in November 1975 on Island.

Some People Can Do What They Like

Robert Palmer released his third solo album, Some People Can Do What They Like, in October 1976 on Island.

Double Fun

Robert Palmer released his fourth album, Double Fun, on March 17, 1988, on Island.


Robert Palmer released his fifth album, Secrets, in June 1979 on Island.


Robert Palmer released his sixth album, Clues, on September 26, 1980, on Island.

Maybe It’s Live

In April 1982, Robert Palmer released Maybe It’s Live, a semi-live album with six concert staples and four new studio tracks.


Robert Palmer released his seventh studio album, Pride, in March 1983 on Island.


Robert Palmer released his eighth solo studio album, Riptide, in November 1985 on Island.

Heavy Nova

Robert Palmer released his ninth solo album, Heavy Nova, on June 22, 1988, on EMI.


  • Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley (1974)
  • Pressure Drop (1975)
  • Some People Can Do What They Like (1976)
  • Double Fun (1978)
  • Secrets (1979)
  • Clues (1980)
  • Maybe It’s Live (1982)
  • Pride (1983)
  • Riptide (1985)
  • Heavy Nova (1988)
  • Don’t Explain (1990)
  • Drive (2003)


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