Legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell has been hospitalized after she was found unconscious at her Los Angeles home Tuesday, TMZ.com reports.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She is in Intensive Care
According to TMZ, the 71-year-old Canadian-born singer is being treated in intensive care at the hospital and her condition is “quite serious.” The website reported that Mitchell was alert in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
2. She Has Suffered From Morgellons Disease
In recent years, Mitchell said she suffered from Morgellons, a rare, controversial disease that sufferers say makes them feel a crawling and biting condition on their skin, which they believe is caused by parasites, insects, hairs or fibers, though none are present. The Centers for Disease Control’s report on the disease found that there is no infectious or environmental cause of the disease. Other studies, including by the Mayo Clinic, found that it was likely a psychosomatic disease.
Mitchell told the Los Angeles Times in 2010:
I have this weird, incurable disease that seems like it’s from outer space, but my health’s the best it’s been in a while. Two nights ago, I went out for the first time since December 23: I don’t look so bad under incandescent light, but I look scary under daylight. Garbo and Dietrich hid away just because people became so upset watching them age, but this is worse. Fibers in a variety of colors protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm: they cannot be forensically identified as animal, vegetable or mineral. Morgellons is a slow, unpredictable killer — a terrorist disease: it will blow up one of your organs, leaving you in bed for a year. But I have a tremendous will to live: I’ve been through another pandemic — I’m a polio survivor, so I know how conservative the medical body can be. In America, the Morgellons is always diagnosed as “delusion of parasites,” and they send you to a psychiatrist. I’m actually trying to get out of the music business to battle for Morgellons sufferers to receive the credibility that’s owed to them.
Mitchell also battled polio when she was a young child in Canada.
3. Years of Smoking Damaged Her Voice
In 2010, Mitchell she said she was retiring from singing because, “six decades of smoking have robbed me of my voice,” according to Variety.
During a 2007 interview with The Telegraph, Mitchell talked about smoking:
It’s one of life’s great pleasures. I have smoked since I was nine, so obviously it didn’t affect my early work that much. I would grab my tobacco and get on my bike, looking for a beautiful place, a grove of trees or a field, and go amongst the bushes and smoke and that always gave me a sense of well being.
4. She Has Lived Mostly Out of the Spotlight in Recent Years
Mitchell has largely been out of the limelight since she released her last studio album, Shine, in 2007. She did appear at a Grammys event earlier this year.
In a 2013 interview with the CBC just after turning 70, Mitchell talked about her reclusive life and her thoughts on death:
I’ve been ill. What are you supposed to do? Wander around when you’re sick as a dog? You can’t. So once again, you know, fame is a series of misunderstandings surrounding a name. I’ve been sick all my life, you know. So if I call off for you with abscessed ovaries, I don’t make a big publicity of it like Liz Taylor. I don’t play the professional sick person…. (It doesn’t bother me when I’m called a recluse.) People always get everything wrong. [Laughs] “When somebody gets something right I’m always delighted.
I’ve had a very interesting and a very challenging life. A lot of battles, just disease after disease after — I mean, I mean I shouldn’t be here, you know. But I have a tremendous will to live and a tremendous joie de vivre, alternating with irritability.
5. Mitchell Is an Icon of the Woodstock Generation
Born in Alberta, Canada, Mitchell is an eight-time Grammy winner and an one of the most iconic folk singers of the Woodstock era.
She is best known for song Big Yellow Taxi, while her album Blue was named the 30th best in history by Rolling Stone. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Mitchell started her career in small clubs in western Canada before busking in Toronto. Her first album was recorded in 1968.
Mitchell told Rolling Stone about how she started in singing:
I bought a ukulele to sing bawdy drinking songs at these wiener roasts that we used to have with my group of cronies. We were rock & roll dancers, for the most part. The guys I hung out with were slightly older than me in high school, and one of them skipped a few grades and ended up in college at fifteen, so we used to go to college parties. The folk-music thing began to happen around that time, and people would sit around and sing. But there were no accompanists. Nobody played guitar around there. There weren’t bands. It isn’t like it is now, where everybody wants into show business.