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Why is Joni Mitchell using a walking stick and wheelchair in 2022?

Eve Edwards April 3, 2022
MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Joni Mitchell - Inside
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


Legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell makes a rare appearance at this year’s Grammys, as both a nominee and a presenter. Mitchell, 78, is up for Best Historical Album at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards.

The delayed ceremony took place Sunday night (3 April 2022), over two months from its original scheduled date of 31 January 2022.

As Joni Mitchell rarely makes public appearances, some fans might not have noted that the singer now utilises a walking stick and, sometimes, a wheelchair. Let’s take a look at what happened to Mitchell and why she now uses a cane.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Why does Joni Mitchell use a walking stick?

Just over seven years ago, in March 2015, Joni Mitchell was hospitalised for a brain aneurysm. The “Big Yellow Taxi” singer was found unconscious in her Los Angeles home and taken immediately to a hospital, per PEOPLE’s report.

In October 2020, Mitchell spoke with The Guardian about her long road to recovery. “[The aneurysm] took away my speech and my ability to walk. And, you know, I got my speech back quickly, but the walking I’m still struggling with,” Mitchell told the outlet.

So, the use of a walking stick – and sometimes a wheelchair – is a result of recovering from a brain aneurysm. Accepting the Kennedy Center Honor medallion back in December 2021, Mitchell gave another update on her progress with walking. “I’m hobbling along there. I’m doing all right,” Joni Mitchell told the crowd, before joking that it was time to “sit down” again.

Ever stylish, Joni Mitchell opts for a black cane that features a silver wolf head handle.

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Joni Mitchell uses wheelchair at the MusiCares gala

Just days before the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, Joni Mitchell was being celebrated at the MusiCares gala. On Friday night (1 April 2022), Mitchell was celebrated as MusiCares’ Person of the Year. Previous honourees include Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, and Neil Young.

The gala event is a dinner and concert which not only celebrates music’s biggest stars but raises funds for MusiCares’ programs and relief efforts.

Throughout the event Joni Mitchell utilised a wheelchair, later using her cane to stand on stage. Mitchell has used a wheelchair at public appearances over the past few years.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Joni Mitchell earns 17th Grammy nomination

This year sees Joni Mitchell nominated for a 17th time at the Grammy Awards. So far, Mitchell has only taken away eight awards over her four-decade-long career.

Joni Mitchell has taken home wins for Best Folk Performance, Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists, Best Pop Album, Best Recording Package, Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, Album Of The Year, Best Pop Instrumental Performance, and Best Album Notes. Could a ninth win be on the cards?

The 64th Annual Grammy Awards sees Joni Mitchell nominated for Best Historical Album for her release Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967).

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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.