At 16, Robert Palmer went to Scarborough School of Art & Design and another student there, Alan Hydes, now a renowned professional artist, became a lifelong friend. But Palmer soon gave up on the idea of a career in art to pursue a career in music. "Even at art college, he sounded like Otis Redding," says Hydes. "He was quite an influential musician."
A few years later, while Robert was making his debut as a solo act, Alan was working as a reporter for Thames TV and wearing Yves St Laurent suits. "Robert had this stage outfit that made him look like a bell boy and Chris blackwell asked me to talk to him about clothes. Robert's first reaction was that you never saw a rock star in a suit, but he started wearing one and suddenly he was the world's best-dressed man."
In the 1990s, Robert Palmer contacted Alan Hydes directly and asked if he would design the artwork for his forthcoming album Honey. Hydes met up with Palmer in London, spent time discussing the content in detail, and later at EMI headquarters once the roughs had been produced.
It was decided that Hydes would illustrate the lyrics to the songs on the album. The painter produced some highly figurative imagery, including a portrait of the singer in the centre of a whirling world.
The sky surrounding the world moved from dawn, to daylight, to sunset and then night. Robert and EMI liked the imagery so much they printed it on the actual CD.
The artist is now based in Mallorca. He first discovered the island when he was asked to paint a portrait by a business man who had a home there. "I fell in love with it," Hydes says, adding that his visit encouraged him to buy a home in Deià.
"Now I can go home at lunch time. I can do 50 laps in the pool," he says. "I do lessons for great guests and I never know who might show up at my studio."
One of those people was actor Leonardo DiCaprio. "I was working on a new painting when he showed up. He just began talking about my paintings, saying he loved the colours."
"I showed him the Robert Palmer CD I designed. He really liked it and said it was so unusual."
"We discussed my work and had a chat about films."
Much of the artist's inspiration comes from his native Yorkshire but Hydes has now also found a creative muse within the Mediterranean.
"When I'm in Mallorca I paint differently, I'm more relaxed and the environment brings out a vibrancy in my work," he says. "The contrast in imagery and colour with my paintings of Yorkshire is remarkable."
(Adapted from various sources - 2022)