By the time UK rock singer Robert Palmer became a household name in the U.S. in the mid-1980s, he’d already been plugging away as a solo artist for a decade, and had achieved modest success with seven studio albums. Then in January 1986, his soon-to-be signature single “Addicted to Love” (from the album Riptide) took him over the top.
Besides being popular for its simple, catchy, steady rock beat and wall-of-sound keyboard and guitar work, “Addicted to Love” was particularly driven to success by its now-iconic music video, which serves as a testament to the power of the new emerging video era. Directed by photographer Terence Donavan, the video features a backup “band” of emotionless models dressed to resemble live mannequins, fronted by Palmer in his shirt and tie. The look and feel of the video brought an ageless touch of class and fashion to rock & roll and redefined “cool” for awhile. The song rocketed to the top of the charts, drove the album Riptide to double-Platinum sales, and landed Palmer a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1987.
So impacting was the live-mannequin imagery in the “Addicted to Love” that Palmer revisited the theme for several more music videos, for the songs “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” “Simply Irresistible” and in animated form for “Change His Ways.”
Palmer died of a heart attack in Paris in 2003. But his legacy lives on in the solid, just-plain-good rock & roll music he created, and the indelible imagery he left behind. “Addicted to Love” remains his most successful single to date. Enjoy a piece of music video history.