Heart attack kills British rock singer Palmer

Saturday, September 27, 2003

— Robert Palmer, the well-tailored British rock singer who created one of the first iconic music videos with the look-alike models of "Addicted to Love," died Friday of a heart attack. He was 54.

A two-time Grammy winner in the 1980s, the star behind the hit "Simply Irresistible" died of a heart attack at a Paris hotel during a stopover after a promotional tour in Britain, manager Mick Cater said.

Sporting designer suits and a thick mane of hair, Palmer shot to fame in the mid-'80s with two videos featuring a "backup band" of dark-haired women in black miniskirts strumming guitars. They were directed by Terence Donovan, a prominent British fashion and society photographer who died in 1996 at age 60.

Other Palmer hits in his three-decade career included "Bad Case of Lovin' You (Doctor, Doctor)," "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" and "Some Like It Hot."

"I don't think he was hugely influential to me musically, but he did something odd and unique," Bob Geldof, of the former Irish pop band Boomtown Rats, said in London. "You can visualize him singing with six babes in dresses."

Palmer died at the Warwick Hotel, just off the Champs-Elysees, after a relaxed night of dinner and a movie with Mary Ambrose, his longtime partner, Cater said. Palmer had received a clean bill of health in a medical checkup about two weeks ago, Cater said.

An autopsy confirmed Palmer died of a heart attack, Paris judicial officials said.

His solo breakthrough came in 1978, with the easy-listening tune "Every Kinda People."

Palmer returned to broad public view in 1985 in Power Station alongside John and Andy Taylor of '80s supergroup Duran Duran. Power Station scored three U.S. top 10 hits, including "Communication" and "Get it On."

Palmer hit the cresting wave of 1980s rock videos at just the right time.

In 1986, he vaulted to superstar status with the Grammy-winning "Addicted to Love," which became one of MTV's most-played clips. The video drew criticism from some feminists for the miniskirted models.

"I'm not going to attach inappropriate significance to (the video) because at the time it meant nothing," Palmer once said. "It's just happened to become an iconic look."