Although a news report went out Friday morning — and then was pulled — that Joni Mitchell had died, the story was published in error, and the singer-songwriter remains alive and well.
“I can confirm all is well so this was done in error,” says a representative for Rhino, which is involved with Mitchell in an ongoing reissue series of her catalog material.
The faux report went out from People magazine, with tell-tale signs of a “pre-write” obituary that was published accidentally — every major news organization’s worst nightmare. “Joni Mitchell Dies at TK AGE,” read the headline that was seen on the magazine’s website as well as in a tweet, the “TK” meaning “to come” in journalistic parlance. The story itself also included editorial notes indicating details that needed to be filled in.
Although the article was soon pulled from the web, it did lead to speculation among fans that perhaps Mitchell really had passed and that People had just pulled the story to get further details before re-publishing its scoop. But there was no basis for the fleeting wave of panic, the rep says, other than a finger likely hitting the wrong button.
Mitchell has actually become more robust in her public appearances recently, after having stayed mostly out of the public eye since suffering a brain aneurysm rupture in 2015. She has since learned how to walk again and been a regular party host at her central California home, where “Joni jams” are a frequent, private occasion. In April, she walked the red carpet and spoke with a line of reporters before being honored at the annual MusiCares Person of the Year dinner, where she capped off the all-star tribute by contributing a few vocal lines to the jam. She sang and performed much more extensively in July at a Brandi Carlile-led “Joni jam” at the Newport Folk Festival, not only singing lead vocals on several songs but even showing off her renewed instrumental prowess on a guitar instrumental.
Although she is not expected to follow up on her return to singing live by coming out of recording retirement, Mitchell has been actively involved in the reissue series from Rhino Records, including a boxed set of her Asylum years material that just came out.