Robert Palmer was a semi-successful recording artist in 1985 when he released his eighth album, Riptide. He had worked with various artists–Little Feat, Bernard Edwards, Nile Rogers and Tony Thompson of Chic, and Duran Duran amongst them–and had spanned several different musical styles, from New Orleans funk to jazz-rock to R&B to blues.
He formed the band The Power Station in late 1984 with Edwards, Rogers, Thompson on drums, guitarist Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor, both of Duran Duran. The resulting self-titled album went platinum. He began work on Riptide in early 1985 and recruited Andy Taylor, Edwards and Thompson to play on the record, with the latter two also working as producers.
He struck gold when his video for “Addicted to Love” was overwhelmingly successful. Film director Ted Emery discussed how Palmer might have gotten the idea:
We got so many warnings about him. We were told ‘this man is not mainstream, he has a message’. His song was Doctor Doctor so I made the film clip, got all these models in lipstick and swimsuits. He came into the studio and all the dry ice starts flowing out and the models with the guitars start moving. Palmer looks around and the record company guy starts panicking. It hit the fan like you wouldn’t believe. We had to pull it all down, change the look of the studio. Years later he used it in a film clip.
The “models with guitars” were all that most people remembered and were talking about when director Terence Donovan’s music video for that first album single was released.
Imagine five very attractive women, dressed nearly identically–each in a plain black long-sleeved dress with a small black studded belt, black stockings and pumps–each with dark hair pulled back, dark eye makeup and bright red lipstick. These are the drummer, keyboardist, lead guitar, bass guitar and rhythm guitar. They sway back and forth in time with the music, each staring blankly ahead, very rarely at the camera, and with only a very few changes of expression.
Of course they aren’t really playing the instruments. Those that thought the women to be attractive and perhaps even sexy in a cooly detached way probably weren’t too concerned about that.
Palmer lip-synced along with his vocal, moving convincingly as he performed, dressed fashionably in a black tie, white shirt and black pants.
(Try this link if the video above won’t load or play.)
With this video and the two similarly-themed ones that followed–“I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” and “Simply Irresistible,” from his 1988 album Heavy Nova–Palmer cemented his place in the Music Video Hall of Fame as an early pioneer in the medium, and a creator of a theme that has been parodied and imitated many times since.
A heavy smoker, Palmer suffered a heart attack in September 2003 and died at the age of 54.