Happy 75th Birthday Joni Mitchell: Performing Live Through The Decades

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Roberta Joan Anderson was born on this date in 1943 in Fort Macleod located in the Canadian province of Alberta. Better known as the talented singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, the 75-year-old began her career performing in coffee houses and folk clubs in the mid-1960s. In the decades since, Mitchell carved out a remarkable and influential collection of albums and live performances, placing her firmly alongside the most important musicians of her generation.

The Music Center in Los Angeles hosted a concert last night, and will again tonight, presenting an all-star collection of musicians celebrating Mitchell’s outstanding body of work. The JONI 75: A Birthday Celebration events feature performances by Emmylou Harris, Graham Nash, Kris Kristofferson, Chaka Khan, Diana Krall, Los Lobos, Norah Jones, Rufus Wainwright, Seal and Glen Hansard.

As the JONI 75 concerts prove, many of Mitchell’s songs resonate strongly when performed live. Below is a collection of videos of Mitchell performing in front of audiences in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990, 2000s and 2010s. The evolution of Mitchell’s sound – from folk to jazz, to rock and beyond – is on display in the archival footage. Joni can be seen performing “Woodstock” just days after writing the song in response to the historic 1969 music festival. She’s backed by legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius and others on her well-known favorite “Coyote” in 1979. Mitchell goes solo for “Big Yellow Taxi” in 1984 and is accompanied by several jazz greats on “Sex Kills” from 1994. Renowned pianist Herbie Hancock joins a performance of “River” from 2008 and the set concludes with “Furry Sings The Blues” from a tribute concert in Toronto in 2013.

Woodstock – Big Sur Folk Festival, September 13, 1969

Coyote – Santa Barbara, September 9, 1979

Big Yellow Taxi – Wembley Arena – London, England, April 24, 1983

Sex Kills – Nara, Japan, May 22, 1994

River – Fox Studios / Century City, California, March 20, 2008

Furry Sings The Blues – Massey Hall – Toronto, Canada, June 19, 2013