beauty icon, joni mitchell

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Photo: Jack Robinson / Condé Nast Archive

joni mitchell

It’s been 40 years since those three days of love and mud known as Woodstock, and it remains ironic that the anthem most associated with the epochal music festival was penned by someone who wasn’t there. Holed up in a hotel room in New York City, Joni Mitchell watched the concert on TV and wrote her song “Woodstock”—including the famous line, “We are stardust, we are golden”—in tears.

Her wry, melancholy musical ways have been hugely influential, of course—Prince name-checked her on the back of an album; Annie Lennox gushed, “I pretty much doubt that I would have gone on to become a singer-songwriter if I hadn’t encountered Joni Mitchell”—but genius lyrics and a gorgeous voice are only part of her charm. With looks one half California beach babe, the other half Norse goddess, Mitchell allegedly counted Graham Nash, Leonard Cohen, James Taylor, and Sam Shepard among her conquests—why should male rock stars have all the fun? The summer of love was four decades ago, but Mitchell will always be the era’s reigning bohemian beauty queen.

—Alison Baenen

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Photo: Jack Robinson / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Barefaced and barefoot, Joni Mitchell poses for Vogue in 1968 with her favorite accessory.

Photo: Matt Campbell / AFP / Getty Images

Mitchell, in Issey Miyake, takes in a standing ovation at the All-Star Tribute to Joni Mitchell at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom in 2000. The concert had Joni fans from Elton John to old flame James Taylor on hand to show the love. Even Hillary Clinton showed up (via a taped tribute); her daughter is named after “Chelsea Morning,” after all.

Photo: Robert Altman / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Mitchell bundles up at the Big Sur Folk Festival in 1969, one month after Woodstock.

Photo: Robert Knight Archive / Redferns

Hello, flower child! Mitchell piles on the blooms at a concert in 1974.

Photo: Henry Diltz / Corbis

“California, I’m coming home”: Mitchell gazes out the window of her Laurel Canyon home, circa 1970.

Photo: Baron Wolman / Courtesy of Rolling Stone

Mitchell graces the cover of Rolling Stone three months before missing Woodstock and writing the anthem that defined it.


The cover of Mitchell’s second album, Clouds, is a self-portrait of the artist in her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, holding her province’s emblematic fire red prairie lily. Clouds took home the Grammy for best folk album of 1969.


Blue, Mitchell’s fourth album, was released in 1971, and in 2006 it was named by Time magazine as one of its “All-Time 100” albums.