Robert Palmer Never Meant to Turn Us On

ByBuck Wolf

Sept. 26, 2003 -- Robert Palmer never meant to turn us on to the guitar-wielding girls in his "Addicted to Love" video — and came to rue talking about the breakout hit that defined an era on MTV.

The musician, who died today of a heart attack at age 54, never even danced with the sexy female band in his 1986 video. The girls were digitally edited into the final product, and it wasn't even Palmer's idea.

"It was a high-gloss fashion photographer — totally him," Palmer told ABCNEWS Radio two years ago in an exclusive interview.

"I'm delighted that the iconography that he created is still valid, especially in the light of today's more overt vulgarness."

Palmer had long ago dismissed videos featuring women flaunting big cleavage as "soft-core pornography." But trying to be philosophical about it, Palmer also noted that his risqué videos and skinny-tie 1980s persona were an undying public obsession.

Chaka Kahn Almost Co-Dependant on ‘Love’

Palmer had much different plans when he wrote "Addicted to Love." He had intended "Addicted to Love" to be a duet with Chaka Kahn. They recorded it, but her vocals were deleted when her manager barred the song's release.

Palmer and Khan had bumped into each other at a club when he was working on the song, and visions of a duet were immediately dancing in his head, he told the Los Angeles Times in 1986.

"We hit it off immediately," he told the paper. "I was impressed. She's the one singer I've always wanted to sing with."

They came back to Palmer's studio and recorded together. But the soul diva already had two songs burning up the charts and her managers didn't want to put too much product on the market.

Nevertheless, the song rocked to the top of the charts and became Palmer's first Top 10 hit. The video became an even bigger success, coming in at No. 8 on MTV's list of 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made.

Palmer went on to become one of the most successful stars of the 1980s, both as a solo artist and as the front man for Power Station, which he formed along with Duran Duran heartthrobs John Taylor and Andy Taylor.

The parade of hits include "Communication," "Get It On (Bang a Gong)," "Simply Irresistible," and "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On."

Palmer's sudden success had been a surprise, even to his small cadre of hard-core fans, who were not too happy with his sudden turn to dance fluff.

Palmer had earned his stripes as a blues rocker in the late 1960s, opening for The Who and Jimi Hendrix as a member of Vinegar Joe.

Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley, his first solo album, earned critical acclaim. At the time, he never really seemed concerned with a carefully crafted image. He had once done a calypso version of the Kinks' hit, "You Really Got Me."

Looking Beyond the Skinny Ties

Palmer hung up his skinny ties years ago and returned to the music of his younger days, performing a wide range of gospel, rhythm and blues, and Caribbean funk.

But memories of the '80s live on, and he has had to answer for them.

"I hardly ever get asked about music." he told The Guardian, a British newspaper. "I do, however, get asked about the 'Addicted to Love' video and my suits on a daily basis."

Palmer may have never danced with that bevy of beauties, but he danced with questions about them ever since. "They were all gorgeous," he told the paper. "I did try to get a few phone numbers."

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