Joni Mitchell facts: Folk singer's age, husbands, daughter, songs and where she is now revealed

31 January 2024, 17:08

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Joni Mitchell is one of the world's most celebrated singer-songwriters of all time, first emerging in the folk scene of the 1960s.

Often reflecting on social and environmental issues of the world while tapping into her feelings about romance, disillusionment, and happiness, Joni Mitchell is an icon of her generation.

Over the decades, she won nine Grammy Awards, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, and was dubbed by Rolling Stone as "one of the greatest songwriters ever".

Here are all the important facts to get you up to speed about the legendary artist:

  1. What are Joni Mitchell's most famous songs and albums?

    Joni Mitchell ~ Big Yellow Taxi + Both Sides Now (BBC - 1969)

    Joni Mitchell released her debut album Song to a Seagull in 1968. Her 1971 album Blue is often described as one of the greatest albums of all time, and was number three in Rolling Stone's Top 500 list in 2020.

    Some of her most famous songs include 'Both Sides Now', 'Chelsea Morning', 'Big Yellow Taxi', 'Help Me', 'Woodstock, 'River' and 'Down to You'.

  2. How old is Joni Mitchell and what is her real name?

    Born Roberta Joan Anderson, Joni Mitchell was born on November 7, 1943. She celebrated her 80th birthday in 2023.

    She was born in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada, and was the daughter of Myrtle Marguerite (McKee) and William Andrew Anderson.

    Her mother was a teacher, and her father was a Royal Canadian Air Force flight lieutenant. After World War II, her father began working as a grocer, and her family moved to Saskatchewan.

  3. Who were Joni Mitchell's husbands?

    Joni Mitchell and her second husband Larry Klein in 1991
    Joni Mitchell and her second husband Larry Klein in 1991. Picture: Getty

    In spring 1965, Joni Mitchell found work at the folk club Penny Farthing, in Toronto. There, she met American folk singer Charles Scott 'Chuck' Mitchell, from Michigan.

    In April, Joni left Canada for the first time, and she travelled with Chuck to the US, where they began playing music together. Aged 21, she married Chuck in an official ceremony in his hometown in June 1965 and took his surname.

    She said: "I made my dress and bridesmaids' dresses. We had no money... I walked down the aisle brandishing my daisies."

    Their marriage and partnership ended with their divorce in early 1967, and she moved to New York City to become a solo artist.

    In the early 1980s, Joni recorded with bassist and sound engineer Larry Klein, whom she later married in 1982. However, 12 years later, they divorced.

  4. Does Joni Mitchell have any children?

    Joni Mitchell - Little Green (Live NYC 1967)

    In late 1964, Joni Mitchell discovered that she was pregnant by her ex-boyfriend Brad MacMath.

    She later said: "[He] left me three months pregnant in an attic room with no money and winter coming on and only a fireplace for heat. The spindles of the bannister were gap-toothed—fuel for last winter's occupants."

    In February 1965, she gave birth to a baby girl. However, unable to provide for the baby, she placed her daughter, Kelly Dale Anderson, for adoption.

    This information remained private for most of her career, although she alluded to it in some of her songs, such as 'Little Green' and 'Chinese Cafe'.

    It wasn't until 1993 that her child became public knowledge, when a roommate from Joni's art school in the 1960s sold the story of the adoption to a tabloid magazine.

    Her daughter, renamed Kilauren Gibb, had already tried searching for her biological parents. They finally met in 1997, alongside Kilauren's son and Joni's grandson.

  5. Where is Joni Mitchell now?

    Joni Mitchell at The 2020 NAMM Show in January 2020
    Joni Mitchell at The 2020 NAMM Show in January 2020. Picture: Getty

    In the early 2000s, Joni Mitchell said that she will no longer tour or perform concerts.

    However, she has made the occasional public appearance to speak on environmental matters.

    She now divides her time between her longtime home in Los Angeles, and the 80-acre property in Sechelt, British Columbia. In 2006, she said: "LA is my workplace. BC is my heartbeat".

    She is said to now focus on her visual art, which she does not sell but displays on rare occasions.

    In 2015, Joni Mitchell had a brain aneurysm, which resulted in her having to undergo physical therapy.

    Joni has also revealed that she has Morgellons syndrome, an illness that has left her housebound. In a new biography, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, she said: "I have this weird, incurable disease that seems like it’s from outer space. Morgellons is a slow, unpredictable killer — a terrorist disease.

    "It will blow up one of your organs, leaving you in bed for a year… Fibres in a variety of colours protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm: they cannot be forensically identified as animal, vegetable or mineral."

    In recent years, Joni has begun performing more, and will perform at the 2024 Grammy Awards.