This ‘brilliant but difficult’ ex-Lowestoft Grammar School pupil from Suffolk, England was an Observer reviewer for whom pop meant little, until a belated admiration for the latter-day Beatles’ ‘joyful music-making that only the ignorant will not hear’. He ventured into authorship with Born Under A Bad Sign (an encapsulation of his newspaper commentaries on pop) and television production with the popular culture magazine How It Is and the 17-part series, All You Need Is Love. Both as a BBC employee and freelance, Palmer was responsible for over 40 documentaries, including Cream’s farewell concert and portraits of diverse subjects such as Jack Bruce, Liberace, Benjamin Britten and Igor Stravinsky. Palmer wrote a superb account of the infamous Old Bailey ‘Oz Trial’, The Trials Of Oz (1971). With Frank Zappa, he co-directed 200 Motels, a sluggish ‘fantasy opera’ of the Mothers Of Invention’s antics on tour - and the first cinema film to employ video equipment. However, after ructions with Zappa, Palmer washed his hands of the movie and tore it to pieces in his Observer column. In artistic debt to Ken Russell, the expensive Wagner (starring Richard Burton) was his first attempt at directing actors. Since then, his career has not been marked by success but more commercial ventures by Palmer in the future cannot be discounted.
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