Retired radio personality Barry Bowman found an old reel-to-reel tape, more than 50 years old, in his ex-wife’s basement in Victoria.
He wasn’t sure it would play but he and recording engineer Dale Baglo decided to record a video of the tape back in 2015.
On the tape was the name “Joni Anderson,” along with the words “audition tape.”
To their surprise, and relief, the tape worked.
Joni Anderson later changed her name to Joni Mitchell before she became well-known around the world. The music on the tape is her first-ever audition, a performance of the “House of the Rising Sun” recorded in Saskatoon (her hometown) at CFQC AM Radio Station in 1963.
At the station in the studio was then 19-year old Barry Bowman.
“One night I suggested that she come up to the station, and do an audition tape. that’s where it started,” Bowman said.
The tape has gotten back to Mitchell but it took a call to music producer David Foster before they were able to give her the tape and others two years later in 2017.
Those tapes are now the part of a series of discs Mitchell is releasing over the next few years.
Baglo can’t believe his part in musical history.
“I couldn’t believe that there was Joni Mitchell, or Joni Anderson. The first recording of her in existence, for sure. It’s been five years of hell sitting on this story. And Barry said don’t say a word to anybody,” he said.
Bowman and Baglo waited until Sept. 11 to put it on Youtube, the same day Mitchell announced the release of her archival music, including the audition song.