Written by
Bob Stumpel

September 5

Ray Charles Is In Town – Chronology 2003

03c DM MadelineChronology 2003

Valerie Ervin, Muhammad Ali, Ray Charles (c. 2003).

c. 2003.

Series of four awkward publicity photos by Robert Banks, probably from 2003.

Photo by Greg Segal, from Esquire, August 2003. “This is a girl’s bike, man. Why would I be riding a girl’s bike? You didn’t think I was gonna notice that, right? You guys are trying to sucker a blind man.”

1 January 2003

Release of Ray Charles – Music That Matters To Him. Seethis.

At RPM, LA. Photo by Monica Almeida.

13 January 2003

Inaugural ball for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Atlanta.

17 January 2003

NAMM Concert with Elton John, at the Arrowhead Pond Arena, Honda Center, Point Anaheim CA (hosted by Eric McCormack, a variety of artists – including Nikka Costa, Vanessa Carlton, Ray Charles, Bruce Hornsby, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Michael McDonald, Rufus Wainwright, Take 6 and Brian Wilson – joined Elton to perform classic songs from his 34-year career). See this.

With Yamaha USA boss Mitsuru ‘Mick’ Umemura.

23 January 2003

Benaroya Hall, Seattle – canceled.

24 January 2003
Trio gig Mar-a-Lago Estate, Palm Beach. Bass player Tom Fowler remembers: “The great moron took one look at my tux and decided I wasn’t important enough to be acknowledged. Fortunately Regis Philbin noticed and complimented me. I felt cold. I immediately didn’t like or respect him.”

Donald Trump, Ray Charles, Melania Knauss. Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images. Just before or after this, Trump groped one of the other guests.

31 January – 1 February 2003

“The Colorado Springs Symphony, in debt and embroiled in a labor dispute, postponed two concerts after musician Ray Charles backed out. Charles […] bowed out because the orchestra would not play. His contract called for a full orchestra backing him […].The 72-year-old is also a member of the American Federation of Musicians, which has asked union members to boycott the orchestra […]”

February 2003
Recording at RPM, Los Angeles.

Working on Heaven Help Us All, with studio musician Clarence McDonald and arranger David Blumberg. Photos by Monica Almeida.

3 February 2003

At San Antonio Stock Show &Rodeo: with Neal McCoy (“played a 90-minute set that went way into the wee, wee hours”).

7 February 2003

Concert (location unknown):

8 February 2003

At studio in LA, recording Let The Good Times Roll with young jazz students and Slash.

9 February 2003

Melbourne International Music and Blues Festival, next to the Melbourne Convention Centre, Melbourne AU; with quartet. See this and this, and read this.

10 February 2003

Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney AU.

Picket didn’t make it to Brisbane…

Photos by Dave Morgan.

12 February 2003

Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane AU.

15 February 2003

Moonlight Music & Wine Festival at Claremont Showgrounds in Perth AU (with a.o. Bob Dylan, Wilson Pickett, John Mayall, Tony Joe White).

19 – 21 February 2003 (one of these days)
Receives Lifetime Achievement Award at Vision Loss Foundation’s event.

Carl Augusto, Robert Ralls, Ray Charles, Maya Angelou, and Quincy Jones.
With Diane Schuur and Stevie Wonder (Ronnie Milsap was in the house too).

March 2003

(Could also have been in 2002). Edward Waters College, Annual Fine Arts Benefit Scholarship Concert, Jacksonville.

1 March 2003

Gala Evening of the Stars at Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton, sponsored by the American Foundation for the Junior Blind, honoring music legend Ray Charles (the gala featured poet Maya Angelou, who talked about triumphing over challenges and adversity, and musician-producer Quincy Jones, who presented the honor to Charles).

2 March 2003

Ft. in First TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV, at Palladium, Los Angeles (air date 12 March). See this.

8 March 2003

Alabama Symphony SuperPops, Birmingham (“he still has a spring in his step, warmth in his smile and a immense love for entertaining”).

14 March 2003

For over 70,000 fans attending the Houston Livestock and Rodeo at Reliant Stadium, Houston TX; co-billed with Ronnie Milsap. See photo here.

17 March 2003

Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, Louisville KY; tickets $25.

18 March 2003

Discussing equipment for the blind with Elba’s Tommy Craig; cf. this.

19 March 2003

At CSUN conference, on “[…] what was intended to be a much smaller scale, Dancing Dots president Bill McCann organized a kind of jam session/talent show on Friday night that featured blind musicians. Word spread, and the resulting event spilled into three large dining rooms and included a cash bar and even dancing. […] 9-year-old Rachel Flowers, a bright, energetic child from California who is blind […] composed for the audience her own rendition of America, which was then sung with memorable beauty by Rachel and her mother (who is also blind). The next guest composer was the renowned Ray Charles – who composed a piece, sang it with the band, and then remained to share the evening with the CSUN guests. Other famous guests simply enjoyed the comraderie and ambiance rather than performing, including award-winning jazz performer Diane Schuur and renowned singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder” (see this and this).

29 March 2003

Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts for the fourth annual Edward Waters College Fine Arts Scholarship Benefit Concert, Jacksonville FL.

8 April 2003

Show at Watchland with trio (or quartet?), in Geneva.


Interviewed about Jean-Michel Bernard, also in Geneva. See this.

9 April 2003

Willie Nelson and Friends: Live and Kickin’ at Beacon Theater in New York City NY (aired 16 May). See this.


All or most of these photos by Theo Wargo and Stephen Lovekin.

11 April 2003

Sings America The Beautiful for the Red Sox’s Home Opener at Fenway Park in Boston MA, prior to the rained out Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles.

Photo by Winslow Townson/AP.
Photo by John Gilooly.

12 April 2003

Florida Music Awards, Davie.

26 April 2003

Performing at The 89th Annual White House Correspondents Dinner, Hilton Hotel, Washington DC. Seethis.  

3 May 2003

Private Function, Washington.

4 May 2003

Profiled in documentary (air date). Seethis

Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremonies at 42nd annual International Achievement Summit in Washington; read this); recorded on video – see this.

14 or 16 May 2003

Last symphony orchestra concert, at the Morton H. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas.

18 May 2003
Presenter (with Berry Gordy) at Philly Soul Explosion benefiting the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, at Mint club in Los Angeles.

23 May 2003

Ray’s 10,000th concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles CA, with Billy Preston (Buddy Guy opener).

“The first show of the Greek’s season was also the first show of Charles’ summer tour, and it showed. The 17-piece Ray Charles Orchestra was either under-rehearsed or had yet to shed the rust of the off season. […] Charles, whose coughs and occasional gruffness betrayed his need for a few weeks of spring training, tried to take matters into his own hands, but even his accomplished left hand was unable to instill some rhythm and soul into the proceedings. […] On Georgia and Come Rain Or Come Shine, with the band relegated to the background, it was possible to concentrate on Charles’ breezily soulful vocals and keyboard work, which made for some fine but low-key music. Things kicked into high-gear when the Raylettes were brought onstage, accompanied by special guest Billy Preston. It felt like another show had started once Charles and Preston took over. They teased and challenged each other, treating I Believe (with a smoldering vocal from Raylette Ms. Tonette) and What’d I Say the way cats treat balls of string, playfully batting the groove back and forth, as Charles’ keyboard work cut across Preston’s Hammond B-3 lines.” Full review here.

24 May 2003

11th Annual Santa Cruz Blues Festival at Aptos Village Park, Aptos VA; tickets $40 – $65 (“[…] he was in his prime, at his peak. His show was scintillating. I have never seen such accomplished musicians gathered together at any rock or blues venue before; the members of the Ray Charles Orchestra were world class; there are few big bands of that caliber touring anywhere anymore”; read this and this). Photo here.

Photos by Tim Mosenfelder.

June 2003

Teaching/recording/interview session with South Central’s Washington Preparatory High School jazz band at RPM. See this.


2 June 2003

Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Blowin’ The Blues Away, at the Apollo, New York. See this.

Photo by Enid Farber.

Photo by  Kathy Willens.

4 June 2003

 Performing on CMT 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music. See this.


6 June 2003

The Palace Theatre, Albany (“Ray Charles is a kind of oracle. In his second song on Friday night at The Palace, he practically muttered. Yet so compelling and important is his presence that one struggles for his words, hangs on his phrasings and believes in his power, which is underscored and punctuated by his band of acolytes. There’s a world of nuance in Charles’ expressive voice”); tickets at $41-$56.

7 June 2003

Capital Jazz Festival, Fairfax VA.

8 June 2003
With George Jones at CMT 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music Taping to Air at Gaylord Center in Nashville.

Photos by R. Diamond.

9 June 2003

On CMA Music Festival/Fan Fair (aired 13 June). See this

12 June 2003

With Van Morrison at the 34th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards (recording date). See this.

13 June 2003

Beau Rivage Theater, Biloxi MS.

14 June 2003

Sam’s Town Casino, Robinsonville MO.

15 June 2003

City Auditorium, Eureka Springs AR.

18 June 2003

Kentucky Center fir the Performing Arts, Whitney Hall, Louisville KY.

19 June 2003

Soaring Eagle Casino, Mount Pleasant MI.

20 June 2003

Symphony Center, Chicago IL.

25 and 26 June 2003

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier. Read review (in French) here.

Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich.

 In a caption to this photo, drummer Peter Turre wrote:
 “[…] we played Atlantic City over the 4th of July weekend that summer, then bounced around the east coast. we played up in the Catskill mountains in upstate NY on a Saturday. I didn’t feel well, but […] we played a great show. The next day we drove to Buffalo, and when I got there I was sick as a dog. I stayed in bed for 3 straight days, and then somehow made it through a tough stretch of Buffalo, Richmond, Connecticut, and Arlington VA over 4 days (in that order, talk about ping-pong!). A lot of sleeping on the bus. Ray’s hip was failing – after the Arlington gig, he took over an hour in his dressing room to leave after the show, and they damm near had to CARRY him from his dressing room to the bus. But even to the end, he got up on that stage that last time and just bounced around like a 20 year old kid on that piano stool. He was an absolute trooper, and just totally electric as always, to the bitter end.

26 June 2003


27 June 2003

At Downtown Jazz Festival, Hummingbird Centre, Toronto ON (for promotional video seethis).

28 June 2003

John Labatt Centre, London ON.

4 July 2003

Concert at opening of National Constitution Center’s new $185 million museum on Independence Mall, Philadelphia.

4 to 6 July 2003

Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City NJ (Getty has erroneously dated their pics on July 10) (unverified: bootleg from concert on 5th?).

Photo by Tom Briglia/Getty Images.

8 July 2003

At RPM Studio, with Ahmet Ertegun.


10 July 2003

American Music Theatre, Lancaster PA.

11 July 2003

Mechanics Hall, Worcester MA.

12 July 2003

Belleayre Music Festival, Highmount NY.

From left to right: Estelle Yarbrough, Renee Collins Georges, Katrina Harper, Karen Evans and Tonette McKinney.

17 July 2003

Center for the Arts, University of Buffalo, Buffalo NY.

18 July 2003

Landmark Theatre, Richmond VA.

19 July 2003

Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket CT.

20 July 2003

Ray’s last concert, at Birchmere Music Hall, Alexandria VA (sold out).

Coll. Steve Sigmund.

25 July 2003

Kansas City, Ameristar Hotel & Casino – canceled.

26 July 2003

Renfro Valley, Renfro Valley Entertainment Center – canceled.

27 July 2003

Boardman, B&B Backstage – canceled.
But: orchestra rehearses in Newark.

29 July 2003
Orchestra rehearsal in Newark canceled.

30 July 2003

Concert in Worcester – canceled.

 Press release (paraphrased)

Ray Charles has had to cancel a few shows because of a painful hip problem. Charles is being treated in Los Angeles for cartilage problems around the hip joint. So far fourteen concert dates have been affected. Charles is expected to resume his tour on August 22 at Harrah’s Casino in Escondido.

1 and 2 August 2003

New York, B.B. King’s Blues Club – canceled.


3 August 2003

Portland, Merrill Auditorium – canceled.

7 August 2003

Levitt Pavilion, Westport – canceled.

08 August 2003

The Grand 1894 Opera House, Richmond – canceled.

9 August 2003

New Orleans, House of Blues – canceled.

10 August 2003

Vicksburg, Ameristar Casino – canceled.

15 August 2003

Bow, Skagit Valley Casino – canceled.

16 August 2003

Spokane, Riverfront Park – canceled.

22 August 2003

San Diego, Harrah’s Rincon – canceled.

23 August 2003

Las Vegas, Texas Station Casino – canceled.

24 August 2003

San Diego, Humphrey’s – canceled.

29 August 2003

Saratoga, Historic Mountain Winery – canceled.

September 2003

Release of Poncho Sanchez, Out Of Sight. See this.

1 September 2003

Long Beach Blues Festival (with Joe Cocker).

6 September 2003

Cedar Falls, University of Northern Iowa – canceled.

19 September 2003

Missoula, Symphony – canceled.

24 September 2003

Celebrating birthday with friends, in LA. See this.


 25 September 2003

Press release:

Though he had to cancel his fall tour because of hip problems, Ray Charles still found time to announce a big Blues writing contest on his 73rd birthday yesterday. Contestants have until December 15th to submit their future Blues Classics at www.blueslab.com. Joining Charles in the judging department is Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alicia Keys and Roger Waters formerly of Pink Floyd. Five winners will be flown to Los Angeles to work with Charles in producing the song. Runner-up prizes include a bass lesson with Flea and a guitar signed by Britney Spears.

A blogger commented: “Yes, you read right, we all know how blues fans just love that Britney Spears!”

October 2003

Interviewed by Clint Eastwood for The Blues – A Musical Journey Series (DVD release date). See this.

Some day during this month as a spectator at the Kennedy Center, attending a performance by Ellis Hall. See this.

 7 October 2003

Celebrates A Gospel Christmas with Voices of Jubilation Gospel Choir of Newark New Jersey (VHS release date). See this

On an unknown location, with Clintons.

8 October 2003

Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills (celebrating birthday?).

1 November 2003

Zénith, Paris – canceled.

10 November 2003

Contributing through video message to The Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute (first aired on 15 November).


21 November 2003

Hammersmith Apollo, London – canceled.

21 November 2003

This photo by Franck Camhi is dated on this day…

3 December 2003

Press release Ray Charles Enterprises: 

Ray Charles is recovering in his Beverly Hills home after undergoing a hip replacement last week. “I feel terrific and am so thankful to the good Lord that all is going well for me,” Charles said in a statement Tuesday. “I can’t wait to get back on the road, which is my second home.”

Acute discomfort in his left hip forced the 73-year-old singer in August to cancel his remaining 2003 tour dates. It was the first time Charles had canceled a tour in 53 years.”

“Charles is undergoing physical therapy and expects to start a national tour again in March,” spokesman Jerry Digney said.

6 December 2003

Desert Diamond Casino, Tucson – canceled.

7 December 2003

Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix – canceled.

16 December 2003

First Flight Centennial Celebration, Outer Banks at Wright Brothers National Memorial – canceled.

Ray Charles and David Newman (unidentified occasion, c 2003).
At RPM, c. 2003.

Singer Madeline Bell remembered that this “audience taped” clip was recorded at Earl’s Court in London. The dating (2003) seems highly improbable.


Bob Stumpel — 2017-01-29 21:40:07

The purpose of this website is to track Ray Charles' life & works. Finding information about this gig is just something I have to add. The source (the woman who was grabbed by the Orange Turd) is credible. The date is plausible. The bass player of Ray's trio remembers the gig in detail. When Getty knows a photo was taken in January 2003, but not on what date, they routinely submit January 1, simply to fill thE DD-space in their database. And fuck you all, haters.

Unknown — 2016-10-19 05:24:22

Liars. You edited the page after the allegations came out, and added a concert date that never happened. I was in the business in 2003, and my memory is excellent.

Unknown — 2016-10-19 05:12:43

Why'd you change your site to include a concert which never took place? You realize some of us were in the biz at the time, right?

stutteringp0et — 2016-10-15 04:20:57

The image of Trump, Ray Charles and Melania is property of Getty Images, and it's dated January 1st 2003. Nice try

Unknown — 2016-10-14 17:18:02

Funny how this was changed overnight/10-14-2016 to include a photo with the date 1/24/2003 with Trump at Mar-A-Lago. Yesterdays 10/13/2016 did not include such a photo or any reference to a concert at Mar-A-Lago.. You are so corrupt.. No credibility at all. Thank God I save from yesterday.. You have no shame to use a dead man to further your agenda.. Sinful..

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