People magazine briefly published an obituary Friday for Joni Mitchell on its website — sparking panic on social media over the fate of the legendary musician before the gaffe was fixed.

The obit for the alive and “well” 78-year-old folk icon included a brief biography of the “Cactus Tree” singer’s life, as well as “TK’s” — a placeholder for missing information that means “to come” — for her age at her time of death.

It is customary in journalism to pre-write the obituary of well-known people in order to publish the information as quickly as possible.

In this case, People jumped the gun, scrambling to take down its obit titled “Joni Mitchell Dies at TK AGE.”

A rep for People told The Post: “People.com inadvertently published a pre-written story earlier today incorrectly referencing the passing of Joni Mitchell. The post has been removed. We apologize for the error.”

People mistakenly publishes obituary of Joni Mitchell before she has actually died
A screenshot of Joni Mitchell’s obit before it was taken down by People.

Over the summer, Mitchell returned to the stage for the first time since suffering a debilitating brain aneurysm that temporarily left her unable to walk or talk.

The 10-time Grammy winner, thrilled fans as she performed more than a dozen of her hit tracks at Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island in July — seven years after the life-threatening health emergency.

Joni Mitchell
Confused fans took to Twitter after People accidentally published Mitchell’s obit.
Getty Images

“I can confirm all is well so this was done in error,” a representative for music company Rhino, which is involved with Mitchell, told Vanity Fair.

However, the mistaken obit was pushed out on Apple News and jolted social media.

“Either Joni Mitchell died or someone at People made her pre-prepped obit live prematurely,” one Twitter user wrote, alongside a screenshot of the obituary for the crooner, whose hits include “Carey,” “Both Sides Now,” “A Case of You,” “Circle Game” and “Big Yellow Taxi.”

“I think it is wrong (or they’re getting info she is gonna die soon) because “TK age” looks like a shell. If she had died, her age would be the easiest detail to pinpoint. Plus,” the user added with the broken link to the obit.

Joni Mitchel sings in a special Joni Jam performance at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams State Park on July 24, 2022
Joni Mitchell (left) with Brandi Carlile (right) singing in a special Joni Jam performance at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams State Park on July 24, 2022.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

Another fan tweeted out an image of People’s obit, which was sent out on Apple news, adding: “I was so confused.”

Meanwhile, another user posed a screenshot of the obit, which read: “The legendary singer-songwriter, who has channeled her hopes, dreams and fears into cascading melodies, has died.

“@people what’s this about Joni Mitchell?, the user tweeted.

“Oh dear, hope it’s just a mistake. Too many losses of late,” another concerned fan added. “They effed up,” echoed another via Twitter.


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Tyler Cowan