January 6 – The annual Park Lane Group Young Artists festival of contemporary music opens with two concerts in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre, London. The first concert, given by the Gallimaufry Ensemble, included the premiere of a new wind quintet by 23-year-old Benjamin Wallfisch; the second concert featured solo bass clarinettist Sarah Watts, who premiered Marc Yeats Vox for solo bass clarinet and Michael Smetanin’s Ladder of Escape for bass clarinet with prerecorded ensemble of six bass and two contrabass clarinets.
January 7 – Opening of the Philip on Film Live festival (until January 11) at the Barbican Centre, London, featuring films with music by Philip Glass performed live by the Philip Glass Ensemble, conducted by Michael Riesman.
January 9 – The Vienna Philharmonic belatedly announce that violist Ursula Plaichinger has become the first official female member of the orchestra, 158 years after their founding and six years after they had been forced to allow women to audition, under threat of having their state subsidies stopped. At the same time, it was disclosed that orchestra boss Clemens Hellsberg had formally banned Plaichinger from giving interviews to the press.
January 10 – Andrew Lack, former chief of NBC news, is named the new head of Sony’s music division, to the surprise of the music industry, because he had no previous experience of the record industry. He replaced Tommy Mottola, who resigned the previous day amidst reports of friction with higher Sony executives over huge financial losses in the music division. Following an investigation by The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and London detectives, police raids in England and the Netherlands recover 500 original Beatles studio tapes, recorded during the Let It Be sessions. Five people are arrested. The tapes have been used for bootleg releases for years.
January 13 – The Who guitarist Pete Townshend is arrested by British police on suspicion of possessing and making indecent images of children and of incitement to distribute them. Townshend claims in a statement that he did not download any such images and accessed Web sites advertising child pornography because he was researching material for his autobiography, which will include passages about his abusive childhood.
January 18 – The Indian Air Force band, the Air Warriors, played a concert in the Homi Baba Auditorium in Colaba (Mumbai), which included Muthuswami Dikshitar’s Vathapiganapathi in a version combining military band with traditional Carnatic instruments. A two-day festival of the music of Mark-Anthony Turnage is given at the Barbican Centre, London, with three world premieres and chamber concerts by the Nash Ensemble and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
January 22 – Nikolaus Harnoncourt cancels a European tour after being ordered by his doctors to take a two-month rest.
February 3 – Police respond to a 911 phone call from one of Phil Spector’s neighbors and discovered the body of actress Lana Clarkson, with a gunshot wound, at Spector’s his home in Alhambra, California. Spector is arrested on suspicion of murder.” The Martin Bashir television film Living with Michael Jackson premieres on ITV in the UK. It airs on ABC in the US three days later. A total of 53 million viewers in the two countries watch the special.
February 8 – Avril Lavigne scores her third #1 single “I’m with You”, making her the second artist in history to have three consecutive #1 songs from a début album in the Billboard Mainstream Top 40.
February 20 – The Station nightclub fire: Fire engulfs a Rhode Island nightclub during a fireworks display which was part of the performance by rock band Great White. The fire quickly spreads across the ceiling, filling the building with thick, black smoke, killing 100 people and injuring 160 others as audience members rush for the exits. Many people are missing for some time, including Great White guitarist Ty Longley, who is later confirmed to be dead.
February 23 – New York City is the site of The 45th Annual Grammy Awards, featuring Nickelback, No Doubt, Foo Fighters, Beyoncé, and other performers.
February 24 – Robert Trujillo joins Metallica.
March 3 – Avril Lavigne kicks off her first headlining tour the “Try To Shut Me Up Tour”.
March 10 – Johnny Cash is admitted to Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee to undergo treatment for pneumonia. The Dixie Chicks unleash a firestorm of controversy at a concert in London when lead singer Natalie Maines announces to the audience that “just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas”. The group is dropped from radio playlists all over the United States and receives death threats as a result.
March 21 – Ex-Neighbours star Delta Goodrem releases her debut album Innocent Eyes which became Australia’s monster smash hit of 2003 and included the releases of the new singles “Born to Try” and “Lost Without You”.
March 24 – Meteora by Linkin Park debuts at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart.
March 25 – Céline Dion begins A New Day…, her Las Vegas residency show. It would run for almost five years and over 700 shows.
April 1 – Dozens of fans walk out during a Pearl Jam concert when lead singer Eddie Vedder makes comments opposing the Iraq war and insulting remarks about U.S. President George W. Bush. Other audience members booed and shouted at Vedder telling him to “shut up.” Vedder attempted to calm the crowd by adding “just to clarify… we support the troops.”
April 8 – Godsmack releases their third studio album Faceless.
April 16 – Luther Vandross suffers a severe stroke at his home in New York City. He emerges from a coma six weeks later.
April 21 – S Club announce live on stage at London’s Docklands Arena that they’ve decided to split up after five years together. Their final single, “Say Goodbye”, enters the chart at #2 a month after the announcement. Rachel Stevens from the group launched her successful solo career shortly afterwards with the song “Sweet Dreams My LA Ex”.
April 28 – Apple Inc. opens the iTunes Music Store, offering 200,000 songs for download at a cost of 99 cents each. More than 1 million songs are sold in the store’s first week.
May 7 – Pete Townshend is cleared of the charges stemming from his arrest in January on suspicion of possessing child pornography, but is formally cautioned and placed on the sex offenders register for five years.
May 19 – The former TV channel MuchMusic USA relaunches as Fuse.
May 21 – Ruben Studdard wins the second season of American Idol, edging Clay Aiken.
May 24 – Turkish singer Sertab Erener wins the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Riga, Latvia, with the song “Everyway That I Can”. It is the last time that the contest is a one-night event. After a 40-year wait, Russian fans of The Beatles finally get to see former Beatle Paul McCartney perform on their soil, on the Red Square in Moscow.
June – Alexander Kuoppala quit Children of Bodom. David Del Tredici’s Wondrous the Merge for string quartet and narrator, based on a homoerotic poem by James Broughton, makes its controversial debut at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival. Henry Ranta quits Soilwork. Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera kicked off their summer Justified & Stripped Tour.
June 14 – The Los Angeles, California radio station KROQ-FM airs the 11th Annual of the Weenie Roast show with AFI, The Ataris, Blur, Chevelle, Deftones, Finch, Foo Fighters, Godsmack, Good Charlotte, Hot Hot Heat, Interpol, Jane’s Addiction, Less Than Jake, Liam Lynch, Staind, Sum 41, Thrice, The Transplants, The Used, The White Stripes, and Pete Yorn. Alice Cooper begins production of his 26th album. It is a departure from the heavy metal sound of previous albums and is more influenced by his albums of the 1970s.
June 22 – Beyoncé releases her No.1 debut solo album “Dangerously in Love”, which would earn her 5 Grammys in a single night. It also spawned two No.1 singles in the US and has sold 11 million copies to date. Nick Oshiro replaces Ken Jay in Static-X.
June 27 – 29 – Glastonbury Festival, U.K., headline acts included David Gray, R.E.M., Primal Scream, Morcheeba, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, Super Furry Animals, Lamb, Macy Gray, Feeder, Manic Street Preachers, Moby, and Doves. The weather is mostly dry and the festival deemed a success from both a security and entertainment viewpoint by Michael Eavis.
July – A-Teens and many others perform at the Stockholm Pride festival.
July 2 – Delta Goodrem is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease.
July 5 – Lollapalooza returns after a six-year absence from the music festival circuit. Jane’s Addiction, Audioslave, Incubus and Queens of the Stone Age are among the featured acts.
July 11 – Judas Priest announces that Rob Halford has rejoined the band, with a reunion tour to follow in 2004.
July 20 – a tragic auto accident in Oregon kills three of the four members of The Exploding Hearts, ending the band after just one album.
July 30 – The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Rush, The Guess Who, and others headline a benefit concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to prove that the city is safe from SARS. With 450 000 spectators, it is the largest concert in Canadian history.
August 19 – Jessica Simpson releases her third studio album In This Skin. The album would later go triple platinum in the U.S. and would produce the hit single “With You”.
August 28 – Madonna sparks media controversy by kissing popstars Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. The situation even ignited a quick war of words between Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera over the kiss.
September 15 – Billy Corgan announces that Zwan has broken up.
September 16 – Ryan Malcolm wins the first season of Canadian Idol.
September 22 – Max Cavalera & Gloria Cavalera fire Marcello D. Rapp causing Roy Mayorga & Mike Doling to leave the band Soulfly in protest.
September 23 – Limp Bizkit release Results May Vary their first album in 3 years and their 4th album overall.
October 4 – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s The Rising Tour concludes after 120 shows over 14 months, with record-setting sales in U.S. stadiums during the summer and early autumn.
October 15 – A two-week-long international conference, “Fuori tempo, dire, fare, sentire la musica oggi”, opens in Genoa, Italy, bringing together performers, composers, scholars, and administrators from classical, folk, and popular music, with a keynote address by Charles Rosen. Featured participants included Nuria Schoenberg (daughter of Arnold Schoenberg and widow of Luigi Nono), musicologist James Harrison, the opera conductor Roberto Abbado, violinist Ivry Gitlis, composers Salvatore Sciarrino, Lorenzo Ferrero, and Andrea Liberovici, poet Edoardo Sanguineti, popular singer-songwriters Teresa De Sio, Gianna Nannini, and Gino Paoli, rock and jazz artists Peppe Servalo and Peppe D’Argenzio of the Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel, and administrators Anna Cammarano (director of classical music at RAI Trade), Gennaro di Benedetto (superintendent of the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa), and Joseph Hussek (director of the artistic programme at the Salzburg Festival).
October 16 – Simon & Garfunkel begin their “Old Friends” U.S. reunion tour, twenty years after their 1983 world tour.
October 20 – Britney Spears releases the first single, “Me Against The Music” featuring American singer-songwriter Madonna, from her upcoming album In the Zone, marketed as a comeback single in the US; it goes on to be an international success, reaching the top three in several countries.
October 21 – Delta Goodrem wins 7 ARIA Awards and defeats Amiel’s “Lovesong” for and a Gold ARIA for Single of the Year, Born to Try. ARIAs host Rove McManus announced that John Farnham will raise the very loud speakers to 1985/1986’s “You’re the Voice” after being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
October 29 – a legal version of the Napster file sharing network relaunches as a pay service, offering song downloads for 99 cents apiece or $9.99 for unlimited listening.
November – Cryptopsy rehires Lord Worm.
November 5 – Evanescence’s lead guitarist and founding member Ben Moody leaves the band on their first world tour.
November 6 – Marco Aro quits The Haunted from his vocalist position. The band rehires their first vocalist, Peter Dolving who had quit from the band in the past.
November 7 – Steve Kmak, aka “Fuzz,” is fired from Disturbed as a result of personality clashes with others in the band.
November 11 – Dream Theater releases their seventh studio album titled Train of Thought, widely regarded as their heaviest album to date.
November 14 – The legal incarnation of the band Pink Floyd reunites to perform at the funeral of their manager Steve O’Rourke. Byron Stroud is confirmed as an official member of Fear Factory.
November 18 – Blink-182 release their fifth studio album blink-182. This album was regarded as a change of musical style for Blink-182 as the music has darkened and matured since their previous albums. Britney Spears releases In the Zone. She breaks her own record as the first female artist to have 3 albums in #1 to become the first female artist to have 4 albums in #1 consecutively. Michael Jackson releases the compilation album Number Ones.
November 19 – Guy Sebastian becomes the first winner of Australian Idol, receiving a contract with BMG Australia. He subsequently records the studio album, Just As I Am.
November 20 – Michael Jackson is arrested on charges of child molestation. The singer faced similar charges in 1993 that were dropped after an out-of-court financial settlement was reached with the family of a boy. In light of the new accusations, the television network CBS chooses to pull the scheduled November 26 airing of a one-hour television special intended to promote Jackson’s new greatest hits album, Number Ones.
November 21 – Korn releases their sixth studio album, Take a Look in the Mirror. It is the last album that features the original lineup of Korn.
November 22 – The band Five Iron Frenzy plays its last show at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver.
December 6 – Elvis Costello and Diana Krall are married in a private ceremony at Elton John’s estate in England. P-Funk founder George Clinton is arrested and charged with drug possession in Tallahassee, Florida.
December 8 – Ozzy Osbourne is rushed into emergency surgery after having a serious accident riding an all-terrain vehicle on the grounds of his English estate. Osbourne broke his collarbone, eight ribs and a vertebra in his neck.
December 12 – Mick Jagger is knighted for services to music by The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace.
December 13/14 – The Los Angeles, California radio station KROQ-FM airs the 14th Annual of the Acoustic Christmas show with AFI, Blink-182, Brand New, Chevelle, The Distillers, Jane’s Addiction, Jet, KoЯn, Linkin Park, The Offspring, P.O.D., Pennywise, Puddle of Mudd, Rancid, Staind, 311, Thrice and Trapt.
December 30/31 – The New Year’s Eve Falls Festival in Australia, traditionally held in Lorne, Victoria, holds events in both Lorne and Marion Bay, Tasmania at the same time. The same artists perform at both events, alternating between the two venues each night.