News & Events

JoniMitchell.com has been bringing you the news on Joni since the day the website went live in 1996. It's all archived and searchable here. In addition to the news, you can find an archive of "upcoming tributes and events" that have been listed on the site as well.

Most recent news

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

Elizabeth “Betsy” Asher, a music industry insider and self-described political news junkie, died Dec. 18, 2018 in Los Angeles. She was 75. She was born April 9, 1943 on Parris Island, SC to Paul Burney Doster and Elizabeth Fredrickson.

Betsy worked in the coffee houses of New York’s Greenwich Village and as a publicist before moving to London. By the time she relocated to L.A., the musicians and songwriters she had known in the Village had become household names in rock music. Journalists and biographers often sought Betsy’s unique perspective on the career arc of some of the most iconic musical artists of the last century.

Betsy is referenced by Joni in Song for Sharon, and perhaps Moon at the Window as well.

A feature-length documentary, Laurel Canyon, is set to premiere later this year. The film, according to a press release, “will pull back the curtain on a mythical world and provide an up-close look at the lives of the musicians who inhabited it.” Alison Ellwood (History of the Eagles) will direct; the film will premiere later this year on EPIX.

Among the artists who will be featured are Joni, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, the Mamas and the Papas, Carole King, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, James Taylor, the Doors, Frank Zappa and more. More information here.

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Upcoming local tributes and events

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The trumpeter’s interest in the songbooks of pop music writers started with his album of music by The Pearlfishers. For a second edition, he’s turning to one of the greatest songwriters of the past 50 years, Joni Mitchell. He’ll naturally turn those quirky melodies about romance, confusion, disillusionment and joy into new pearls for jazz audiences to enjoy. Steele’s approach is to savour the simplicity; not stray too far from the melody; look for beauty; and create tunes that glow and sparkle with warmth and affection. It’s a beautiful concept that not many musicians could pull off, but with David Milligan (piano), Calum Gourlay (bass) and Alyn Cosker (drums) he does it! More information here.

The music of iconic singer-songwriters Carole King and Joni Mitchell, as well as Broadway favourites, are coming to the Victoria Hall stage this month.

One Night Only, a concert featuring Chilina Kennedy, star of Broadway’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and special-guest performer Susan Dunstan, from Come from Away, will take the stage on Monday, July 22 at 8 p.m.

Tickets start at $65 for general seating and are $150 for the VIP Experience, which provides patrons with access to a pre-show Champagne Gala (starting at 7 p.m. at Victoria Hall), VIP seating and a charitable-donation tax receipt.

The concert is produced by Eclipse Theatre Company. More information here.

In celebration of the 75th birthday year of Joni Mitchell, the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and her ongoing 7-year celebration of the music of Joni Mitchell, singer and pianist HANNAH REIMANN presents a new staging of Mitchell’s work, BOTH SIDES NOW.

Featuring Reimann as lead vocalist, pianist and dulcimer with guest instrumentalist MICHELE TEMPLE (Pere Ubu) on guitar and backing vocals, the show presents 19 songs from the albums: Song to a Seagull, Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, Blue, For the Roses and Court and Spark, and readings from David Yaffe’s bestseller, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell. More information here.

Joni's Soul began as a collaboration between "from-the-heart" London soul singer Gina Foster and former longtime Van Morrison guitarist Ronnie Johnson, enlisting some of UK's very finest players with a shared love for an artist they consider to be one of the greatest singer/songwriters and guitar innovators of the last half century.

Coyote, Hejira, Edith and the Kingpin, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, A Case of You, Trouble Child, Help Me and Gina’s gorgeous version of Both Sides Now - it’s through songs like these that the band explore the unique songwriting and gift of performance Joni revealed in her iconic albums Blue, Court and Spark, Hejira, The Hissing of Summer Lawns and beyond …

Drawing on their own emotional response to these songs Joni’s Soul have looked beyond merely the faithful reproduction of the Joni Mitchell songbook to shine a light on the most soulful aspects of her words and music. The band's recently released cd 'Shades Of Joni' passionately illustrates their well-defined and warm interpretations of some of the finest songwriting and performance in music history.

Gina Foster - vocals, Ronnie Johnson and Patrick Johnson (guitars), Graham Harvey (keyboards), Steve Pearce (bass), Richard Bailey (drums). More information here.

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