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Rock Journalist Robert Palmer Dead At 52

November 28, 1997 12:00 AM ET

Celebrated music journalist Robert Palmer died Thursday morning in a New York hospital. He was 52. Palmer, who endured a long bout with liver disease, was awaiting a possible transplant. A longtime pop music writer for The New York Times and Rolling Stone, Palmer wasalso the author of the acclaimed history "Deep Blues."

Palmer was honored on Sunday at a memorial service at Tramp's in New York by the likes of Patti Smith.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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