Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer (Jan. 19, 1949 — Sept. 26, 2003) was an English soul-rock singer from Batley, West Yorkshire, who first emerged as the second vocalist for the Alan Bown Set, appearing on their 1969 self-titled sophomore album.

In late 1970, Palmer joined soul-rockers Dada, prompting the band’s metamorphosis into Vinegar Joe, which cut three albums for Island during 1972 and 1973. He left for a solo career in 1974, recording his first album with backing by Little Feat and The Meters. Four further albums appeared on Island between 1975 and 1979, culminating with the breakthrough releases 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 15.

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 12-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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