News archive

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.

News archive

The Grammys' expansion of their definition of traditional pop resulted in a spike in the number of entries in its best traditional pop vocal album category, from 55 last year to 81 this year.

The expansion brought in such entries as the all-star Joni 75: A Joni Mitchell Birthday Celebration (Live), Barbra Streisand's Walls, Elvis Costello & the Imposters' Look Now and Bryan Ferry and his Orchestra's Bitter-Sweet. The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards will be will be held January 26.

The ‘Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration’ album will be released on vinyl as part of the Record Store Day Black Friday celebrations in the US on November 29! The 2-LP set will be pressed in a limited edition of 3,000 copies and available from any participating local record retailer. A wider release will occur at a later date.

More information on Record Store Day Black Friday is here.

In 1971, as her album Blue topped charts around the world, Joni Mitchell crafted one hundred copies of Morning Glory on the Vine as a holiday gift for her closest friends. For this stunningly beautiful book, Joni hand-wrote an exquisite selection of her own lyrics and poems and illustrated them with more than thirty of her original paintings and watercolors. Hand-crafted, signed, and numbered in Los Angeles, the existing copies of this labor of love have rarely been seen in the past half-century.

Now, as Joni celebrates her seventy-sixth birthday, Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings is available widely for the first time. In this faithfully reproduced facsimile edition, Joni's best-loved lyrics and poems spill across the pages in her own elegant script. More information here.

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.

In 1971, as her album Blue topped charts around the world, Joni Mitchell crafted one hundred copies of Morning Glory on the Vine as a holiday gift for her closest friends (see original book). For this stunningly beautiful book, Joni hand-wrote an exquisite selection of her own lyrics and poems and illustrated them with more than thirty of her original paintings and watercolors. Hand-crafted, signed, and numbered in Los Angeles, the existing copies of this labor of love have rarely been seen in the past half-century.

Now, as Joni celebrates her seventy-fifth birthday, Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings is available widely for the first time. In this faithfully reproduced facsimile edition, Joni's best-loved lyrics and poems spill across the pages in her own elegant script. The lively, full-color watercolor paintings depict a superb array of landscapes, still-lifes, portraits of friends, self portraits, innovative abstractions, and more. All the paintings from the original book are included, along with several additional works that Joni had intended to include for her friends in 1971. Finally, the refreshed volume features an original introduction written by Joni herself. Morning Glory on the Vine is a gorgeous and intimate keepsake and an invitation to explore anew the dazzling, visionary world of Joni Mitchell. More information here.

In Joni 75, artists gather to celebrate Joni's 75th birthday. The lineup features Brandi Carlile; Glen Hansard; Emmylou Harris; Norah Jones; Chaka Khan; Diana Krall; Kris Kristofferson; Los Lobos with La Marisoul, Cesar Castro and Xochi Flores; Graham Nash; Seal; James Taylor; and Rufus Wainwright. Presented by The Music Center at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, the Joni 75 concerts were recorded November 6 and 7, 2018, with musical arrangements by co-musical directors Brian Blade and Jon Cowherd. Premieres nationwide beginning March 2 on PBS. Check local listings here.