Canadian Rock ‘n Roll Radio Legend Dies at 82

Rosalie Trombley, Bob Seger | Credit CTV News Windsor

“She’s everybody’s favorite record girl.” – Bob Seger. Those lyrics in Seger’s 1973 song “Rosalie”, were about the legendary Rosalie Trombley.

After a remarkable career in radio, Trombley passed away peacefully yesterday at 82. She got her start in the radio industry as a switchboard operator in 1968 at CKLW “The Big 8” in Windsor, Ontario. She quickly showcased her talent in selecting and playing hit music, and was promoted to music director. Then a Top 40 station, CKLW was broadcast across Canada as well as throughout almost two dozen American states at night, due to its close proximity to Detroit.

Her imprint on the music industry went beyond many borders, receiving credit for kicking off the careers of many iconic rock bands. Bob Seger, Paul Anka, Alice Cooper, Gordon Lightfoot, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Guess Who; those are just a few bands that she put on the map.

She became known as “the girl with the golden ear” – a nickname given to her to describe her rare and revered ability to launch hits that would climb the charts. Songs such as “These Eyes” (The Guess Who), “Taking Care of Business” (Bachman-Turner Overdive), “If You Could Read My Mind” (Gordon Lightfoot) were made famous thanks to Trombley’s selections. Each of those songs peaked within the first dozen spots of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in the year that each of them were released, and they performed even better on the Canadian RPM Top Singles Chart.

Credit | Detroit Free Press Archives, 1971

According to her son, Tim, “she really had this intuitive ability to connect with the lyrics”. She even persuaded Elton John to release “Bennie and the Jets” as a single in 1974, and it quickly became a hit that, to this day, is among his best-known songs.

At the Juno Awards in 2016, Trombley was awarded the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award which is given to those “who have made a tremendous impact on the Canadian music industry”.

As an honour to Trombley’s pioneering in the music industry, the City of Windsor’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund has provided funding to a local sculptor, Donna Mayne, who is planning to sculpt a life-sized bronze statue of Trombley that will be placed in Windsor. Mayne has particular interest in tributing Trombley with a sculpture, as she would be only the second female in Windsor to be honoured with a statue.

Although Trombley’s career accomplishments in the music industry were outstanding, “her proudest work was her family”, her son Tim told the Detroit Free Press. She was a single mom and is survived by her daughter and two sons. At a later date, a private service will be held for them as well as other family members and friends.

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