Former Saskatoon disc jockey finds long-lost tapes of Joni Mitchell's first recording session

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The story of how the music finally got into Mitchell’s hands — 55 years after the fact — is ripe for the rock ‘n’ roll history books. After the 1963 recording session, Bowman and Mitchell parted ways, Bowman moving on to other jobs in radio and Mitchell relocating in Los Angeles. Bowman said he quickly misplaced his copy of the session, following a move to Regina.

A spare recording of an unknown singer from Saskatoon would not have been top of mind at the time, Bowman said.

“During my career, moving on from station to station, these things tend to kind of get lost.”

He would soon realize the flaws in that reasoning. When Mitchell eventually became a well-known singer, in 1968, he immediately recognized her as the girl from the Saskatoon studio. And the more famous she became, the more he bemoaned the loss of the tape. He relayed the story to friends over the years, but never had the evidence to back up his claims — that is, until his daughter discovered an old box of odds and ends in his ex-wife’s house five years ago.

“I kept from time to time thinking, ‘I wonder where those tapes wound up?’ I’d obviously left them in the basement or something like that. And sure enough, (in the box) I spotted this one tape immediately. I recognized it. And then I noticed that there’s a second tape. I had not remembered that there was two tapes.”

Written on the spine of the cases: Joni Anderson.

The very first recordings by Joni Mitchell, before she was Joni Mitchell, is a significant find.
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