Two legendary performers died during the past week. On September 7, 56-year-old singer-songwriter Warren Zevon lost his battle with cancer. Zevon was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in August 2002 and was given only three months to live. He spent the past year working on his final album, The Wind, which was released in August and debuted at Number 16 on the Billboard 200 chart. Guests include Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam and Jackson Browne. Best known for his 1978 hit Werewolves of London, Zevon once said, "I always like to have violent lyrics and violent music. The knowledge of death and fear of death informs my existence. It's a safe, kind of cheerful way of dealing with that issue."

Country legend Johnny Cash, 71, died of complications from diabetes on September 11. His death came just four months after his wife, June Carter Cash, passed away following heart surgery. Known as "The Man In Black," Johnny recorded 14 Number One singles during his long career. His best known hits include Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk The Line, A Boy Named Sue and Ring of Fire. Cash had been in ill health for several years, but continued to record. His recent albums bridged Country and rock and brought him another generation of younger fans. Johnny's latest album, American IV: The Man Comes Around, became his first gold album (shipment of 500,000 copies) in 32 years. It included a recording of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt, which earned him a 2003 MTV Music Video Award. He was scheduled to appear at the August 28 ceremony, but was hospitalized for an undisclosed stomach ailment. He's the leading nominee for this year's Americana Awards, which take place this week (see Awards Section). Johnny Cash had planned to return to the studio this month with producer Rick Rubin to finish work on his fifth album for American Records. They were also preparing a 100-track box set of unreleased material from the 10 years they worked together.

September 16, Arista Records will release Aretha Franklin's first album in five years. So Damn Happy features two songs written by "The Queen of Soul" and collaborations with Mary J. Blige on two tracks. She also teamed with Burt Bacharach on several tunes. Franklin is currently performing U.S. concerts in support of So Damn Happy. She'll stop at New York's Radio City Music Hall on September 20. The tour is being billed as the last extensive outing of her career.

Madonna's first children's book hits stores on September 15. The English Rose was published in 42 languages in more than 100 countries. It's said to be the largest simultaneous worldwide release of a book in history. Madonna says the book, which is the first in a series of five she plans to write, was inspired by her seven-year-old daughter Lourdes.



The 2nd annual Austin City Limits Music Festival will take place September 19 - 21. More than 100 artists are scheduled to appear at the event, including Dwight Yoakam, Bela Fleck, Steve Earle, R.E.M., the Mavericks, Patty Griffin, Liz Phair, and many others.


September 19, The late Johnny Cash leads the nominees with three mentions, including Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for his cover of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt. During the awards show, Kris Kristofferson will receive the 2003 Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award. At last year's inaugural event, Johnny Cash was given the same honor.

U.K. oddsmakers had predicted Coldplay or Radiohead would win this year's Mercury Music Prize, which rewards the year's best album from Britain or Ireland. But, at the September 9 event in London, hip-hop newcomer Dizzee Rascal earned the award for his album Boy In Da Corner. A shortlist of 12 finalists was put together by an independent panel of judges. They met again on the night of the awards show to choose the winner. Dizzee Rascal received more than $31,000.

Shania Twain led the winners at the 2003 Canadian Country Music Awards. The honors were presented on September 8 in Ontario. Shania took home trophies for Top Female, Top Album and Top-Selling Album for Up! and Top Video for the album's hit single I'm Gonna Getcha Good. Other winners included Aaron Lines, who received the Top Male and Rising Star awards; Emerson Drive, named Top Group; and Sean Hogan, who picked up the Top Roots Artist award. Terri Clark received the Fan's Choice Award for the fourth year. She also earned the Top Single award for I Just Wanna Be Mad. During the ceremony, Shania Twain inducted Sylvia Tyson into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Sylvia was once a member of the folk duo Ian and Sylvia, which also featured her ex-husband Ian Tyson. She now performs with the award-winning vocal group Quartette.


Simon & Garfunkel have released more details about their upcoming reunion tour. Their first outing in 20 years will kick off on October 18 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. U.S. dates will wrap up with a three-night stand at New York's Madison Square Garden on December 3, 4 and 5. In other news?On October 10, Columbia Records plans to release their double CD anthology, The Essential Simon & Garfunkel. Paul Simon has a new solo album coming out next year. Art Garfunkel has a series of solo concerts planned for early next year. He'll begin the tour on January 31 in Boston.

Jewel has cancelled a tour that was to begin this week. The cancellation was due to the death of her bass player, 39-year-old Terome "T-Bone" Hannon. Hannon died of a stroke on September 4. Some of Jewel's solo acoustic dates will still go on as planned.

September 17, country/rock group The Mavericks will kick off a U.S. concert tour. The outing marks their first shows together in three years. The band split up in the late 1990s, when the members began working on solo projects. Earlier this year, they announced plans to reunite for a new album, which is due out on September 23. Next month, The Mavericks will head overseas to perform shows in the U.K.