Singer Joni Mitchell ‘alert’ despite coma claims

Official website refutes claim that folk singer is unconscious, says full recovery expected

Singer Joni Mitchell is alert and is expected to make a full recovery, according to a statement on her official website contradicting a friend’s court filing that the Grammy-winner is unconscious and unable to care for herself.

The 71-year-old has been in hospital since March 31st for undisclosed reasons. Her longtime friend Leslie Morris yesterday filed a petition to become Mitchell's guardian.

Within hours, Mitchell’s official website stated that "she comprehends, she's alert and she has her full senses" and sd a full recovery was expected.

Morris’ court filing was accompanied by a doctor’s declaration stating that Mitchell would be unable to attend a court hearing for four to six months, but it included no additional details on her condition or prognosis.


Dr Paul Vespa checked a box signed on Saturday indicating that Mitchell was unable to participate in her medical care.

“At this time (Mitchell) remains unconscious and unable to make any responses, and is therefore unable to provide for any of her personal needs,” states Morris’ filing, which was signed by her on Sunday and by her lawyer on Monday.

Morris sought a court order because Mitchell does not have any family who can serve as her guardian and assist with her care and medical decisions. Her filing does not seek any control over Mitchell’s finances.

Mitchell’s website states Morris’ filing seeks to get authority to make decisions for the singer once she leaves the hospital and is not under the 24 hour care of a doctor. A court hearing on the filing is scheduled for July 8.

It says: “Contrary to rumours circulating on the Internet today, Joni is not in a coma. Joni is still in the hospital — but she comprehends, she’s alert, and she has her full senses. A full recovery is expected.

The document gives her long-time friend Leslie Morris the authority — in the absence of 24-hour doctor care — to make care decisions for Joni once she leaves the hospital.

“As we all know, Joni is a strong-willed woman and is nowhere near giving up the fight. Please continue to keep Joni in your thoughts.”

Mitchell has received eight Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement award in 2002. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

She started her career as a street musician in her native Canada before moving to Southern California, where she became part of the flourishing folk scene in the late 1960s.

Her second album, Clouds, was a breakthrough with such songs as Both Sides Now and Chelsea Morning, winning Mitchell the Grammy for best folk performance.

Her 1970 album, Ladies Of The Canyon, featured the hit single Big Yellow Taxi and the era-defining Woodstock, while the following year, she released Blue, which ranks 30th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

Her musical style integrates folk and jazz elements, and she counts jazz giants Charles Mingus and Pat Metheny among her past collaborators.