Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Jimi Hendrix records Joni Mitchell on a reel-to-reel tape recorder at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa on March 19, 1968.

Rhino Entertainment

A lost concert recording of a young Joni Mitchell taped by Jimi Hendrix at an Ottawa coffee house more than a half-century ago has finally turned up. The Dawntreader, a song from the live recording, was released by the Rhino label on Thursday. More of the tracks are set to be part of the boxset Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971), which comes out Oct. 29.

On March 19, 1968, the flamboyant rock virtuoso Hendrix gave a pair of concerts at Ottawa’s Capitol Theatre. Afterward he dropped by the nearby Café Le Hibou to catch a late set by the nascent Mitchell.

According to Hendrix’s tour diary, he had called Mitchell upon arrival at the city’s Château Laurier hotel, where Mitchell was also staying. In his diary entry for March 19 he noted, “Beautiful hotel … Strange people … Talked with Joni Mitchell on the phone … fantastic girl with heaven words.”

Story continues below advertisement

But, as recounted in David Yaffe’s Mitchell biography Reckless Daughter, Mitchell’s initial exchange with Hendrix seems to have happened when the Foxy Lady guitarist shyly approached her at the club that night, carrying a portable (but clunky) Sony tape recorder:

“My name is Jimi Hendrix and I was just signed to Reprise, the same label that you’re on,” he said, according to Mitchell. “Could I tape your show?”

“Sure,” said Mitchell.

Hendrix then situated himself close to the stage, set up the reel-to-reel recorder, put on a pair of headphones and taped the solo-acoustic performance. “He didn’t put [the tape recorder] there and back off,” Mitchell recalled. “He engineered it all the way through.”

The club was partly owned by Harvey Glatt, who also co-promoted the Hendrix concerts at the Capitol. The lone photo of Hendrix taping Mitchell shows him wearing a floppy leather hat that he almost lost earlier in the night. “He had leaned over into the crowd while he was playing at the Capitol, and a woman took it off his head,” Glatt told The Globe and Mail.

Luckily, the hat thief was easily identifiable because of the yellow raincoat she wore. She was stopped in the lobby after the show and forced to return the groovy chapeau. “Jimi was very upset when he lost the hat, but thrilled when I got it back for him,” Glatt said.

The performance by the 25-year-old Mitchell included some of the material that would be released on her debut album, Song to a Seagull, just days later. I Don’t Know Where I Stand would appear on 1969′s Clouds, while Ladies of the Canyon was the title song of Mitchell’s third album, released in 1970.

Story continues below advertisement

One song Hendrix recorded, The Way It Is, never made it onto a Mitchell studio album.

Unfortunately, as the Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell recalled in his memoir, Jimi Hendrix: Inside the Experience, the tape recorder and tapes were stolen the next day. “End of story on that,” he wrote.

Joni Mitchell performing at The Riverboat Coffee House in Toronto on April 19, 1968.

Dennis Robinson/The Globe and Mail

A decade ago, however, the recording was discovered by Ottawa native Ian McLeish, a Canadian music archivist. He was looking through an extensive stash of tapes belonging to his late friend Richard Patterson, a CBC radio producer and a former drummer in the band the Esquires who collected recordings of local artists.

In 2002, McLeish had begun digitizing Patterson’s tapes, some for release on McLeish’s small reissue label, Mousehole Music. After Patterson died in 2011, McLeish took a second look at the reel-to-reel tapes. One of them was labelled “Joni Mitchell Recorded Live At Le Hibou Mar/68.”

“I don’t know how Richard got his hand on the tape,” McLeish told The Globe.

The 1968 Hendrix-Mitchell summit continued after the latter’s show, when the two musicians and a large entourage hit the Motel de Ville in nearby Vanier, site of one of the area’s first discos. Later, the party moved to the Château Laurier for the night.

Story continues below advertisement

In his March 20 diary entry, Hendrix mentioned his departure from Ottawa: “I kissed Joni goodbye, slept in the car awhile.”

When Rhino released Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967) last year, McLeish contacted Mitchell’s management about the unearthed Ottawa recording. “Joni was overjoyed,” said McLeish, who actually had attended one of the Hendrix concerts at the Capitol Theatre. “She thought the tapes were lost forever.”

The one track released this week, The Dawntreader, is a courtly poetic ballad with glittering lyrics about “peridots and periwinkle blue medallions” and “gilded galleons spilled across the ocean floor.”

It was a different time, 1968.

Sign up for The Globe’s arts and lifestyle newsletters for more news, columns and advice in your inbox.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies