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First Joni Mitchell tapes found in Victoria basement after being lost for more than five decades

Lost Joni Mitchell tapes found in Victoria basement
After being lost for more the five decades, the first-ever recording by Canadian music legend Joni Mitchell was discovered in a box of odds and ends.

For years Barry Bowman has been sharing what seems like a tall tale about his brush with an iconic Canadian singer.

He said when he was a young disc jockey at CFQC in Saskatoon when he recorded some songs by a young singer named Joni Anderson.

Bowman went on to have a successful career in radio across the country, and now lives on Vancouver Island.

Joni Mitchell honoured in Saskatoon
Joni Mitchell honoured in Saskatoon

The 19-year-old singer later changed her name to Joni Mitchell, and gained worldwide fame.

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“Joni lived in Saskatoon with her parents, but she was part of our crowd,” Bowman said in an interview with Global News.

“I think I was about the same age, maybe a little bit younger. So we spent a couple of nights, in fact, recording just a few of these folk songs that she enjoyed. And that was it.”

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Bowman lost track of the recordings.
Decades after Mitchell famously sang “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone,” Bowman’s daughter dropped off a box of items such as tapes and reel-to-reel cassettes.

He joked that the lost Mitchell recordings could be in the box.

Musician Joni Mitchell recording her first album “Song to a Seagull” at Sunset Sound Recorders in 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sulfiati Magnuson/Getty Images)
Musician Joni Mitchell recording her first album “Song to a Seagull” at Sunset Sound Recorders in 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sulfiati Magnuson/Getty Images).

“As I said that, there they were,” he said. “I realized that there were two tapes with a total of nine songs.”

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Bowman reached out to Verve Records, who told him he may have the first-ever recordings of Mitchell.

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In 2018, Bowman met Mitchell in L.A. and handed her the tapes.

“She embraced my wife and me and took us into her life with her people,” he said.

Next month, the world will hear the lost music, which includes Mitchell’s version of the folk standard “The House of the Rising Sun,” for the first time on a new five-disc box set.

Bowman said the recordings take listeners back to a special moment in time.

“In all her wonderful gloriousness, she was just once again Joni Anderson from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.”