Marlene Palmer, Longtime Publicist for Bryan Adams and Anne Murray, Dies at 62
"She was a calm oasis in a hurricane," said Adams, who began working with Palmer around 1980.
Publicist Marlene Palmer, who worked with artist manager Bruce Allen and client Bryan Adams for close to 40 years, as well as a host of other top talent, died over the holidays (Dec. 30) of ovarian cancer, at the Victoria Hospice in British Columbia's capital city, according to her husband Phillip Hurst. She was 62.
The press release was issued today (Jan. 5) by music journalist Larry LeBlanc.
"In 1980, a former CHEK Victoria on-air reporter walked into my office, and said that she'd like to work with me in the music business as a publicist," recalled Allen in a press statement. "That was in the era of 'dreamers and telephone screamers. Marlene Palmer and I worked together for 37 years, only interrupted by her occasional 'walkabouts,' when she took her prodigious talent to the CBC or to Balmur Entertainment.
"Marlene brought with her dignity, professionalism, and a tremendous respect for those who she worked with," Allen added. "She respected, and admired talent, always making sure that her clients were protected as they moved along in their careers. She shunned the spotlight, but made sure that it shone on her clients as much as possible. Marlene Palmer was the best."
Born in Chilliwack, BC, Palmer graduated in broadcast communications from the British Columbia School of Technology in Vancouver and went to work at Radio Chilliwack. She then accepted a position on-air at a TV station in Lethbridge, Alberta, before working as investigative journalist and weather reporter at CHEK-TV in Victoria.
In 1979, Palmer answered a newspaper ad for a publicist at Bruce Allen Talent Promotions in Vancouver. Despite having zero experience in that area, she got the job and became an integral part of the team, helping to take Loverboy and Adams from the ground-up to global success.
One of her early projects was overseeing the national media for the historic all-star charity single, "Tears Are Not Enough," recorded in 1985 and organized by Allen under the name Northern Lights, which raised funds for famine relief in Ethiopia.
After several years working at Bruce Allen Talent Promotions (which became Bruce Allen Talent), Palmer then moved to Toronto to work at CBC television. From there, Murray's long-time personal manager Leonard Rambeau hired her in 1986 to work at Balmur Entertainment, handling press for Murray and other clients George Fox and Rita MacNeil.
Following Rambeau's passing in 1995, Palmer married Hurst, and returned to BC where she launched Palmer Publicity Ink in North Vancouver. In 2011, she and her family (daughter Katie) moved to Victoria.
In recent years, she continued to work with Bruce Allen Talent, significantly for Adams and Murray. Other clients included Rocklands Entertainment in Peterborough, Ontario; and Annerin Productions, a division of the Calgary-based Jeff Parry Promotions.
Murray, who retired in 2009, brought Palmer onboard to handle media just in November when the singer was honoured by the University of Toronto for her archive donation.
She is survived by husband Phillip Hurst; daughter Katie Hurst; mother Lorraine Palmer; and sister Sharron Forrester.
Anne Murray: "Marlene and I worked together for 31 years. She was a consummate professional and a joy to work with. When she set things up, everything went like clockwork. I would show up and the first thing people would say was, 'Marlene Palmer is amazing!' And so she was. She saw the big picture so well while attending to all the details. Everyone loved working with Marlene. Not only did we work well together, but she was a dear friend and I will miss her terribly."
Bryan Adams: "Marlene started working with Bruce around the same time I did, in 1979 / 1980. She was very quiet and demure, and completely inoffensive compared to the animals she was working with. She was a calm oasis in a hurricane. This unflappable character trait never changed in the 30+ years we worked together. Her emails to me were always very long and detailed. She was a very dedicated hard worker, someone you could absolutely depend on, no matter what the circumstances. In other words, no matter how loud Bruce yelled!
"I remember the day Marlene's life changed, it was the day that Katie was to arrive in Canada, and for her to be a mum. Her eyes welled up with happy tears as she told me of Katie's imminent arrival. Nothing in the world meant more to her than being a mum to Katie; yes even more than Bruce Allen and Bryan Adams!
"It breaks my heart to think that Marlene and I were still corresponding only weeks before she passed away, and even when I asked her how she was, she was quiet and demure about it. Not wanting me to worry, and seemingly unfazed by her ordeal. Just a calm oasis in a hurricane, that was our Marlene. Goodbye, farewell, you will never be forgotten."
Paul Dean (Loverboy): "The best way I can describe Marlene: Supportive. Caring. Generous. Cheerful. Tireless. Marlene was always on the front line when it came to charitable causes. We worked closely during our time with Bruce Allen, and even as recently as 2016. She was always there for us, for anybody, putting a professional sheen on us all. I'll never forget her favorite expression, "Between a rock and a hard place". She never failed to find the middle ground, Marlene always made us look good."
Tommy Hunter: "In my sixty five years in the entertainment business I never met anyone more professional than Marlene Palmer. She was respected throughout our industry from coast to coast, and will be missed both as an associate and a dear friend."
Frank Mills: "Marlene was a very special person and always a lady. She was a master at her job and a lovely person. I am touched and very saddened by the news."
Tom Harrison (author and journalist): "Marlene Palmer occupies a unique place that was of her own making. There was some aura of exclusivity about her that made her different from any other publicist. Possibly, this was because she primarily worked for Bruce Allen, suggesting she was a pillar in his empire, and emerging as a calm voice of reason. Marlene was reserved, which doesn't mean she was coolly objective about her acts, starting with Bryan Adams, and then Anne Murray. You could rely on her if you needed to talk to Adams, or if she needed you. Marlene dressed well, put herself together admirably, and carried herself with dignity."
Brian Edwards (Rocklands Entertainment): "In recent years Marlene worked with all of our Rocklands shows in Canada and the USA with utmost of class. There was not a person in this industry that never said how much a pleasure Marlene was to work with. She always did her job with class, and true professionalism. Marlene was a trooper right up to the end. I had an Email from her just a week before she passed wishing us all the best and thank us for our continued support and patience. Weeks ago Marlene was working as hard as ever setting up the final interviews for our "Oh What a Night Christmas" tour. She never let her guard down, and she handled everything with her kind and efficient manner."
Steve Smith (a/k/a Red Green): "Marlene was one of my favourite people. She was smart, extremely professional, creative and most of all, kind. Her passing is a great loss for her family, her friends, her associates and the entire media services industry."