Robert Franklin Palmer Jr. (June 19, 1945 – November 20, 1997) was a 20th century American writer, musicologist, clarinetist, saxophonist, and blues producer. Robert Palmer is best known for books he authored such as Deep Blues, his music journalism articles for The New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine, his work producing blues recordings and the soundtrack to the film Deep Blues, and his clarinet work in the 1960s band The Insect Trust. A collection of his work, titled "Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer" and edited by Anthony DeCurtis, will be published by Scribner on November 10, 2009.
Palmer was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of a musician and school teacher, Robert Palmer Sr. A civil rights and peace activist with SNCC in the 1960s, the younger Palmer graduated from Little Rock University (later called the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR)) in 1964. Soon afterwards he and fellow musicians Nancy Jeffries, Bill Barth, and Luke Faust formed a psychedelic music group blending jazz, folk, and blues with rock and roll, called The Insect Trust. The band recorded its first, self-titled album on Capitol Records in 1968. He continued playing clarinet and saxophone from time to time in local bands in areas he lived throughout the rest of his life.
In the early 1970s, Palmer became a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He became the first full-time rock writer for The New York Times a few years later, serving as chief pop music critic at the newspaper from 1976 to 1988.