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

Annie Ross of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross died today in New York City. She was 4 days shy of her 90th birthday. In a 1986 interview, Joni stated that "...friends of mine who were older than me and in college began talking about Lambert, Hendricks and Ross as the hottest new sound in jazz. Their record flipped me out, but it was already out of print. I had to finally buy it off somebody and pay a lot, maybe fifteen dollars, which was unheard of at that time. But you couldn't get the record anywhere. Lambert, Hendricks and Ross were my Beatles. In high school, theirs was the record I wore thin, the one I knew all the words to."

In 1952, Ross met Prestige Records owner Bob Weinstock, who asked her to write lyrics to a jazz solo in a similar way to King Pleasure, a practice that would later be known as vocalese. The next day, she presented him with the song "Twisted", a treatment of saxophonist Wardell Gray's 1949 composition of the same name- a song Joni later recorded on the Court and Spark album.

Superstars (including Joni) and rising stars band together to ask Congress to support independent music venues across the country in the quest to #SaveOurStages.

"Independent venues give artists their start, often as the first stage most of us have played on. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance, 90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will never reopen again."

A new two-part documentary series titled Laurel Canyon, focusing on the fertile music scene that coalesced in the Los Angeles neighborhood of the same name, where many famous artists resided and congregated starting in the late 1960s, will premiere on Epix on May 31 and June 7 at 9 p.m. ET.

The program will include music from such legendary artists as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, The Doors, Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, Eagles, The Mamas & the Papas, Jackson Browne, The Monkees, The Turtles, Buffalo Springfield and more.

It also will feature rare and newly rediscovered film footage and audio, as well as new interviews with Browne, Don Henley, Michelle Phillips, Graham Nash, Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Roger McGuinn and others.

You can check out a teaser trailer for Laurel Canyon now at the Epix YouTube channel. The video includes a montage of archival film and photos of various famous musicians, along with commentary from The Monkees' Micky Dolenz, Nash, David Crosby and more.

Dolenz notes that Laurel Canyon "was a very small community of musicians and long-haired weirdos," while Nash declares, "We were at the very center of this beautiful bubble of creativity and friendship."

Crosby, meanwhile, says, "When a chemistry happens between people musically, it's magic."

Laurel Canyon was directed by Alison Ellwood, whose credits include 2013's History of the Eagles and the new documentary The Go-Go's.

Philadelphia’s Gene Shay — the voice of a music community for over 50 years, a celebrator and curator of folk music on the airwaves and an eager supporter of it from the stage — has passed away at age 85 from complications surrounding COVID-19. Shay debuted on Philadelphia radio in 1962 at WRTI, and hosted the Folk Show on WXPN from 1995 to 2015.

The impact and influence of that show cannot be overstated. Joni famously wrote her song “Both Sides Now” during downtime when she was playing two nights at Sansom Street venue The Second Fret, and premiered it with an acoustic performance for Shay and his listeners on the WDAS airwaves. [-John Vettese].

You can read a series of interviews with Gene and Joni here.

Wallace Roney, a trumpeter and composer who embodied the pugnacious, harmonically restive side of post-bop throughout an illustrious four-decade career, died Tuesday at St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson, N.J. He was 59. The cause was complications from COVID-19. (Nate Chinen)

Wallace played trumpet for Joni on her 2000 "Both Sides Now" tour.

In a new book, available April 7, 28 crime writers pay tribute to Joni's musical legacy with short stories inspired by her lyrics, representing each of her seventeen studio albums from 1968's Song to a Seagull to 2007's Shine. Joni was once asked to explain a song: "Who cares what I meant, what does it mean to you?" This book answers that.

Lyle Mays passed away this morning in Los Angeles. Lyle was an integral part of Joni's 1979 tour with Pat Metheny, Jaco, Michael Brecker, and Don Alias. He and Pat's hauntingly beautiful transition between Amelia and Hejira stands as one of the enduring highlights of the tour. Lyle was a founding member of the Pat Metheny Group, providing arrangements, orchestration, and the harmonic and metric backbone of the group's musical signature.

Craft Recordings has announced the first-ever vinyl release of Joni’s 2007 album, Shine. Available April 3rd, and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI, the acclaimed title includes such tracks as “One Week Last Summer” (which received the 2008 GRAMMY® Award for Best Instrumental Pop Performance), and an updated version of Mitchell’s iconic 1970 track “Big Yellow Taxi.” More information here.

Hailed as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century, Joni will receive the prestigious Les Paul Innovation Award at the 35th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards (NAMM TEC Awards), being held Saturday, January 18, 2020 in Anaheim, California. The award is given on behalf of the Les Paul Foundation to honor individuals that have set the highest standards of excellence in creative application of artistry in the spirit of the famed audio pioneer, inventor and musician, Les Paul. More information here.

The Barnes and Noble book store chain has selected MORNING GLORY ON THE VINE to be part of this year’s #BNSignedEditions selection for holiday. Copies of the book, hand-signed by Joni, will be at B&N stores and online starting Saturday, November 16.

For all concerned, know that Joni is safe and sound from the fire threatening the area.

I always dreamed of seeing my book in a bookstore window. This feels even better than I imagined.
- Joni Mitchell

Thank you, Book Soup in Los Angeles for this beautiful window display featuring Joni’s new book Morning Glory on the Vine.

In the image, taken on release day, you can see reflected in Book Soup’s window the old sign from Tower Records on Sunset—in that store over 40 years ago Joni had her first window display of an album. Photo courtesy of Hannah K. Johnson.

We saved the best review for last. Our official recap of the stunning Brandi Carlile performance of the entire Blue album on Monday night. Reviewer Sam Stone takes you there.

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