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13 Rock Stars Who Disappeared

From David Bowie to D'arcy Wretzky, a guide to musicians who have left the spotlight behind
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Richard Upper/Redferns; Michael Bezjian/WireImage

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Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell started threatening to retire around the late 1960s, but by the end of the 1990s, it seemed like the great singer-songwriter had finally gone and done it: Her 1998 LP, Taming The Tiger, was billed as her last album. This turned out to be a false alarm. Two years later, she returned with the jazz covers set Both Sides Now, and a similar orchestral LP devoted to her own material followed in 2002. Mitchell dropped out of the spotlight again for a while after that, until her 2007 album, Shine. Things have been very quiet since then, aside from a notorious 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times in which she described her experience with Morgellons syndrome and ripped into former collaborator Bob Dylan. "He is not authentic at all," Mitchell said. "He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I."

Barrett Scale: 4. Giving the occasional weird interview is a textbook recluse move, so Mitchell gets a point for that. She gets three more for skipping her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1997, although she had a good excuse – she had just re-connected with the daughter she gave up for adoption decades earlier. But despite her complete lack of concert appearances or new music in recent years, we can't go higher than a four. Mitchell still attends public events, like the time she sat with old friend Neil Young at his pre-Grammys tribute concert earlier this year. That's just not recluse behavior.

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