Meeting Robert Palmer

When: February 22, 1986

Where: Clift Hotel, San Francisco

What: Interview, questionnaire, photos, autographs

And: There we were, waiting for ABC, and none other than Robert Palmer walked in! He was big at the time for both “Addicted to Love” and his involvement with Duran Duran side project The Power Station. We couldn’t believe our luck in catching him while he was in town to visit a friend. He was very, very nice, and even kind enough to grant my interview request. After changing into a suit, he met me at the bar for the chat. (He actually had to vouch for me so they’d let me sit at the bar.)




And for more from this artist…




7 Responses

  1. Thank you for the cool article about Robert Palmer. I knew Robert Palmer for a number of years and I am always glad to see someone write something complimentary about him. People really discovered that he was a nice person when they did meet him. It’s hard to explain to some people that an image is just an image, in particular an iconoclastic one. Robert could be very laid back and did not stand on ceremony too often. If you were curious about the person he was in San Francisco to meet, it was Chris Blackwell, the owner of Island Records and his lifelong friend and mentor. Chris had homes all over the world inclusive of one in San Francisco and one in the Napa Valley, which he loved. Robert loved spending time there. The place was fabulous. In general though, Robert spent a lot of time in California. He had a home in Del Mar, California, a beautiful community in Southern California. A lot of people only mentioned Lugano, Switzerland when he died but he did have homes in California, Milan, and Sussex as well. Before Robert died, he was looking for a home in the Wilshire region of Los Angeles with his longtime girlfriend, Geraldine Edwards. He and Geraldine, who was the woman Almost Famous was written about, had been dating since his 1999 divorce from Susan Palmer. Robert’s manager, Mick Carter had initially misreported Mary Ambrose as Robert’s companion at the time of his death, but that matter was later legally rectified to make a long story short. Mary Ambrose casually dated Robert and a host of others, but she was not his girlfriend by a longshot. In 2004 Mary Ambrose was legally enjoined from writing a book about Robert Palmer and herself by the Palmer family. Nick Krewen and Jane Gordon were going to assist her in writing the book, and they too were legally contacted by the Palmer Legal Counsel and ordered to destroy the chapters that they had prepared on Mary’s behalf. They were compelled to comply. It was all just as well. There would not have been a lot of truthful information contained about the subject at hand. Krewen and Gordon were personal friends of Mary’s. Robert was about to go into the studio when he had died. The target date was October of 2003. This recording was going to include material that he had written. He told me that he had written six songs that he thought were going to work out for the new recording. He was also going to use material written by Otis Redding, Ike Turner and Wilson Pickett. He was of an open mind about the project because Compendium Records had given him full creative control over the project. Soon he was going to be the owner of Compendium Records as prior to his death he was in the process of buying the Independent Label based in Denmark. Thanks again for the nice report on Robert. May he RIP.

  2. Who is the person writing all this stuff about Mary Ambrose? Your on a mission for sure. Your “facts” are not adding up but I must admit that Mary deserves it! Can you start providing PROOF to back up your claims. (please)

  3. Thanks for this nice article about Robert Palmer. I was Robert’s road manager from 1975 to 1985 and I got to know him quite well. I was also the Guess Who, Chicago, and many others’ road manager over the years. We were on the road a lot in the seventies and eighties and you really get to know a person under those extreme circumstances. What I found out about Robert was that he was a really great friend. We remained friends until his death. You will have noticed in meeting Robert that he did not have an elitist attitude towards people upon meeting them. His upbringing was responsible for that and he made mention that when he became full of himself his mother would remind him that they were not members of the royal family. He paid heed to what she said when he was an adult and it stood him in good stead with his friends and fans. The british gentleman stage act was just that, an act. Robert was very down to earth. I remember the last time that I got to personally spend with Robert. When I retired I bought a very nice estate in Olympia, Washington. Robert called me in July of 2003 to spend some time with him at his Del Mar estate in California. Although most articles mentioned Robert’s Lugano estate, Robert did spend a lot of time on the west coast at his Del Mar estate, too. In fact, Robert loved Southern California since his first visit in 1970, and made it his point to spend as much time there as he could. I had not been away from Washington for awhile so I agreed to spend a few days there. Robert had a few others staying with him, and of course, his girlfriend Geraldine Edwards, was living with him by this point. What Sarah said was true also. Robert and Geraldine were looking for a home in the Wilshire region of Los Angeles by that time. Robert had also proposed to Geraldine. He had known her since 1975. She had told him she would accept his proposal once he had taken care of a few outstanding problems that he needed to take care of, businesswise and in his personal life as well. He was doing everything he could to fit the bill. Marrying her meant a lot to him. He had even bought her a ruby engagement ring that was really beautiful. Jack Bruce came down at the beginning of July of 2003 to join him at his Del Mar estate also. Although Jack always maintained his own estate in Rancho Bernardo, since 1975, the house was closed up at the time and not ready for habitation. Besides, Jack really enjoyed spending time in beach areas, of which Del Mar is. The first week of July, me, Robert and Geraldine flew to Paris, France where Robert had some personal business to take care of. One of the things that he was doing there was meeting with his attorney regarding his will. He had made a few changes to it at that time. We stayed at a private home on the outskirts of Paris rather than at a hotel. I was grateful for being able to spend that time with Robert, as I mentioned earlier, it was the last time I got to spend any time with him personally. Robert was a big part of my life, particularly when I was young, and I have good memories of him. May he rest in peace.

  4. I was a back-up singer in the late sixties until the early eighties, providing back-up for a lot of acts. I did back up for Joe Walsh, one of my favorites, on “The Smoker you Drink…” with Clydie King. That was an adventure. I have also worked with Lee Michaels, Sly Stone, Ike Turner and K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Joe Cocker and quite a few others. I am semi-retired now, and I only say that because sometimes I still get up on stage and help out. In 1982, I decided to move down to San Diego, as previously I was living in Los Angeles due to my career. I was originally from Detroit. Things were getting crazy in L.A. and San Diego was a lot more peaceful. I bought a very nice home in Pacific Beach that I still own, and I consider it one of the best decisions of my life. I met Robert Palmer in 1983, at Ike Turner’s estate in Paradise Hills, which is also in San Diego County. It was also one of the reasons I moved to San Diego, Ike recommended it. Actually, after I had met Robert, I had done back-up for him on a couple of shows. He was great to work with. I discovered that he owned a really nice estate in Del Mar, also in San Diego. He referred to it as his pied a tierre. I got a chuckle out of that. At the time, however, his main residence was in Nassau, the Bahamas, although a few years later he moved to Lugano, Switzerland. I visited both places, and they were fabulous. One thing I can say about hanging out with Robert was that you had to expect the unexpected. The “gentleman in a suit stageact” was just that, a stageact. Robert was salt of the earth. That is not to say that he was not a dapper dresser. Even in his private life Robert was always put together and up to the minute. One of the reasons that me and lot of Robert’s friends loved him was because of his down to earth nature. He was raised a military brat, and was able to make friends easily. I got to get to know Robert’s second wife Sue a little bit. Sue was a Psychologist and an artist. She told me that she loved the science of the mind, and that she had plenty of opportunity to study it being surrounded by those people around her, but that art had won out. She was and is a fine artist, who owns her own art gallery in Sedona, Arizona and gives one woman shows. I was surprised when she divorced Robert in 1999, but she said that she was married at nineteen, and really wanted to explore life on her own. I was married young, and that does sometimes happen. She is now remarried. I also got to know Geraldine Edwards, now Geraldine Flemming-Mueller, Robert’s girlfriend. She married in 2006. I met her in 2006, and she was a pistol and intelligent. She worked and still works in the legal field, and people were forever trying to get free legal advice from her. Geraldine had an ingenuous quality about her, but she was far from naive. She was one of the inspirations for the Penny Lane character in Almost Famous, the other being Bebe Buell. She had been around the scene for ages and had dated some major heavy hitters. She knew what was going on at all times. You get like that when you are in or around the business for a long time. When you socialized with Robert, you met a lot of interesting characters. Robert was not the least bit introverted, and was in fact a collector of people, all types of people to his credit. That was one of the things that I loved about him. Before Robert died, he was planning on getting back into the studio to start work on his new release. Although he knew that he had done some really good work on Drive despite the roadblocks and problems getting it done, he told me that he was “in the game” and knew this new recording was going to top Drive. Robert had written all the songs he was going to record, plus interpret a couple of the classics by Redding and Charles. He was going to record his version of “I can’t stop loving you” by Ray Charles and “Try a little tenderness” by Otis Redding. He had also written a romantic ballad called “Timeless” for his girlfriend Geraldine, who he had proposed to in early 2003, and he admitted that it was inspired by many of Nat King Coles’s songs. But Robert was a fan of Cole’s. He had also written a great gritty song called “Keep on Walking” that he played it demo of for me. It was great. I had listened to other untitled demo’s he had recorded, and they were all good. I was saddened when I heard of Robert’s death. Robert’s friend Paul Cavanaugh informed me of Robert’s death and I was shocked. Albeit, Robert did have some health issues, I was still very shocked at the news. Fifty-Four years old is considered young in this day and age. I am now sixty-five years old and value each and every day of my life. A person has to live every day to the fullest, because there are no guarantees. And that is what Robert did, live every day to the fullest.

  5. Venetta, thanks for all the great singing, and for the fascinating background on Robert.

  6. The fact that Robert Palmer abandoned the Power Station when they were taking off the way he did, should tell you that he’s NOT the “laid back” person you people make him out to be!

  7. Respectfully, may I ask if you had a favorite song of Robert Palmer’s? The reason I ask is “Every Kinda People” is my favorite. I loved his live performance on the Midnight Special in 1978, when I was 13 years old.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I found it interesting and no doubt your life was equally so.

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