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Jerry Lawson, who for four decades was the lead singer of the eclectic cult-favorite a cappella group the Persuasions, has died. He was 75. Lawson died Wednesday at a Phoenix hospice after a long illness, longtime friend and sometime Persuasions producer Rip Rense said.

Lawson's smooth baritone led the group of five and later six singers, who were revered as the "The Kings of a Cappella" by their small but devoted fan base. Through 25 albums the Persuasions recorded rock, blues, gospel and pop songs, all with no sound other than their own voices, long after the doo-wop era and long before the "Pitch Perfect" movies, when a cappella was rare. -Andrew Dalton

The Persuasions accompanied Joni on her 1979 tour, doing an opening set, then being brought back to join Joni on "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" and "Shadows and Light".

In October of 1967, Buffy Sainte Marie urged a young talent scout from the Chartoff-Winkler Agency to come listen to Joni perform at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York City. Smitten immediately with her talent, the young man pitched being Joni's manager. "I don't need a manager, I'm doing quite nicely", Joni replied.

But he was a funny man, Joni enjoyed his humor, and before long he was managing Joni's career. And it was just a few months later, in March of 1968, that Elliot Roberts negotiated Joni's first record contract with Reprise Records.

Elliot managed Joni until 1985, and had just recently begun doing so again. A true legend in the music industry, Roberts also landed a record deal for Neil Young, co-managed CSN&Y, conceived the idea of Tom Petty backing Bob Dylan in the 1980s and helped launch the careers of Tracy Chapman and the Cars.

Born Elliot Rabinowitz on February 25th, 1943, Roberts was raised in the Bronx and initially hoped for a basketball career before turning to music. Elliot died this morning at age 76.

Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., known around the world as Dr. John, initially aspired to be a professional songwriter, producer and sideman. He wanted to work behind the scenes, not out front. But after assuming the persona of Dr. John the Night Tripper in the late 1960s, Rebennack was behind the scenes no more.

His idiosyncratic style and sound – the gravelly growl, the sly, deceptively leisurely phrasing, the original hipster patois, the hybrid Big Easy piano – embodied New Orleans and its music. Rebennack, an icon of the city who remained an active creative force until he abruptly disappeared from public view 18 months ago, died Thursday of a heart attack after years of declining health. He was 77. -Keith Spera

Joni and Dr. John appeared on the same stage at the legendary Last Waltz concert in 1976. And, on her 35th birthday Joni attended a Dr. John concert at the Bottom Line in NYC (pictured), in which he sang happy birthday to her from the stage.

play Dr John sings to Joni

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14 Upcoming Tributes and Events

Do you know of a Joni-related event we've not listed here? Email the information to us and we'll post it here. You can also request our official Facebook page to co-host the event, and we'll pick up the info there.

The Joni Mitchell Songbook brings together a group of top-drawer musicians, led by singer Sarah Miller and keyboard player Aidan Goldstraw, whose devotion to the artist’s back catalogue shines through in performance. This is no ordinary tribute act – it’s an evening spent together, exploring the work of a musical genius.

This comprehensive survey of Joni’s career includes landmarks such as Big Yellow Taxi (her most covered song), River and A Case of You (both from the breakthrough album Blue), the radio hits of Help Me and Free Man In Paris (from double-platinum Court and Spark) and the jazz-infused stylings of In France They Kiss On Main St (The Hissing of Summer Lawns) and Coyote (Hejira). More information here.

Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. at Richmond Memorial Library

Join musician Leah Zicari for a free concert dedicated to the music of Joni Mitchell. The impact of music in our lives plays a huge role in "Southernmost."

One character in particular -- Bell -- finds solace in the music of Joni Mitchell, such as the tune with the same title as Mitchell's debut concept album "Song to a Seagull." (This is reflected in the name of the complex of rental cottages owned by Bell.) "All I Want" is a number from Mitchell's fourth studio album released in 1971, "Blue," and House cites the song as central to Bell's character and the album itself as playing a pivotal role in his book. More information here.

Lira Musikmagasin bjuder in till en helkväll med fokus på en av musikens riktigt stora konstnärer. Duon Sofia Mono och Erik Björksten tolkar några av Joni Mitchells starkaste sånger i avskalade arrangemang. Olle Niklasson berättar om bakgrunden till sin 20-sidiga artikel om Joni Mitchell – färsk ur det nysläppta höstnumret av Lira – och tolkar dessutom hennes musik fritt på sopransax och elektronik. Passa på att träffa Liras redaktion och få med dig Liras höstnummer hem!

Dörrarna öppnas: 19.30
På scen: 20.00
Fritt inträde!

Bengans Fik håller extraöppet kvällen till ära. Där kan du köpa t ex lokalproducerat öl, enklare mat eller en riktigt god kopp kaffe. More information here.

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