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

Know of an upcoming Joni-related event?

Email the information to us and we'll post it here.

FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW, Broadway's Supper Club, presents Lauren Fox in The Evolution of Joni Mitchell on Friday, September 13th at 9:30pm. David Yaffe joins Lauren in telling the stories behind songs, including, "Both Sides Now," Big Yellow Taxi," "Woodstock," "Blue," "Free Man in Paris," "Hejira," and "Turbulent Indigo."

Lauren had the honor of singing Joni Mitchell's songs at the book release for David Yaffe's new, definitive biography, Reckless Daughter, while David Read excerpts from his book. That evening was the inspiration for this show about Joni's evolving artistry. Lauren will be joined by longtime friend and collaborator, Peter Calo, on guitar, and Ritt Henn on bass.

Lauren Fox in The Evolution of Joni Mitchell plays Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street) on September 13th. There is a $40 cover charge and $25 food and beverage minimum. Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551. More information here.

The Court and Spark show will take you on a musical journey that will probably mirror your own journey through life, from Ladies of the Canyon, Clouds, For the Roses, Blue and Court and Spark, to the cool, evocative sounds of Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira, Mingus and Turbulent Indigo. More information here.

BOTH SIDES NOW: The Music of Joni Mitchell- Featuring vocalists Janine Gastineau & Terri Jo Jenkins, plus Eric Gunnison (pno), Bill Kopper (gtr), Bill McCrossen (b), Raoul Rossiter (drums).

Frank Nichols' House Concerts, Aurora CO
(RSVP for address to frankcn@earthlink.net, seating is limited!) *No Cover! TIPS welcome!*
Potluck - bring any food item OR bottle of wine to share. More information here.

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.

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