The Mandrakes

Robert went to art school at Scarborough Technical College. His first band was The Mandrakes which were formed in 1965.
This band had nothing to do with The Mandrake Paddle Steamer contrary to previous press reports. The Mandrakes supported many renowned acts during this period at local venues and appeared from a live festival appearance on the television programme "Six Five"







Robert sang, but did not recordwith Dada, who also featured Elkie Brooks on vocals. Dada metamorphosed into Vinegar Joe who recorded 3 albums for Island records:







Robert's writing increased apace and he had sole or shared writing credits on 8 of the tracks across the 3 Vinegar Joe albums, including the single "Never Met A Dog" The album Six Star General included a cover of an Andy Fraser (Free and ex John Mayall's Bluesbreakers bass player) song "Talkin' Bout My Baby". This marked an early admiration by Robert for Andy Fraser which later became apparent in his faithful and warm cover of Andy's "Every Kinda People", one of Robert's biggest early commercial successes

The line up of Vinegar Joe was Elkie Brooks (vocals and percussion), Robert Palmer (vocals and rhythm guitar), Pete Gage (guitars and effects), Steve York (bass guitar), Tim Hinkley (piano and organ), Rob Tait (drums and percussion).Vinegar Joe toured heavily and made TV appearances on "The Old Grey Whistle Test", "Music Unlimited ("Ride Me Easy Rider)" and Best Of The Beat Club ("Proud To Be (A Honky Woman))" but the albums failed to achieve any significant sales figures and the band split up in March 1974. The idea was mooted at the time of Robert joining Little Feat (he allegedly sang backing vocals on a little Feat US tour), as a replacement for Lowell George, but Robert stayed with Chris Blackwell's Island records as a solo artist.