Robert Palmer, who transformed himself from a casual funk-rocker into a GQ-styled icon of ’80s pop, died Friday at age 54, manager Mick Cater told Reuters. The ”Addicted to Love” singer, who had lived in Switzerland for the last 16 years, succumbed to a heart attack in Paris, said Cater, who had no further details, except to say that Palmer had been on a two-day break in Paris after a TV taping in England.
The British-born Palmer had his first hit in 1974 with the loose-limbed funk single ”Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,” from the album of the same title. His blue-eyed soul style moved in a more mainstream pop direction with hits like 1979’s ”Bad Case of Loving You.” By the mid-’80s, his music’s evolution toward a slick, metallic pop sound was complete, with hits like ”Addicted to Love” and ”Simply Irresistible.” His sartorial style, too, found him in well-tailored suits, surrounded by blank-faced, guitar-strumming female models in his videos. He was a top MTV star during those years, which included a short-lived stint fronting the supergroup Power Station, whose other members included fellow clotheshorses John Taylor and Andy Taylor of Duran Duran. In the ’90s, Palmer tried to reinvent himself again, returning to his R&B roots and making model-free videos, and was met with plummeting sales. The last decade found him exploring a variety of styles, including cabaret, ’80s-style pop (again), and in this year’s album ”Drive,” mid-century blues.