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Montreux Celebration

Artists & People in Montreux


Claude Nobs and Montreux

Claude Nobs grew up in Territet near Montreux. His father was a baker and his mother a nurse. The family of 3 children, his brother Jean-Pierre and his sister Sylvia were rather serious, disciplined and studious children at school while Claude, who would later say so, was rather wild, turbulent, loved nature and accumulated nonsense.

At a very young age, Claude developed a passion for music and listened to the many 78 rpm recordings his father had in his collection. At the age of six, his father nicknamed him "Duke Elligton", his favourite music being Jazz.

At 17, having a hard time getting up in the morning to help his parents at the family bakery. His father forced him to choose a profession. Claude then chose cooking and began an apprenticeship at the Schweizerhof in Basel. It is in this hotel that he will obtain the title of best apprentice chef in Switzerland!

Claude often listens to the radio show "Pour ceux qui aiment le jazz", hosted by Frank Ténot and Daniel Filipacchi on Europe 1. He will learn a lot about the music and style of Ray Charles, John Coltrane or Joe Turner.

In the 1960s, he was hired as an accounting assistant at the Montreux Tourist Office, his manager, Raymond Jaussi, quickly entrusted him with organizing musical events to revitalize the city.

On his first trip to the United States, after a visit to the Appollo Theatre in Harlem, he decided to show up spontaneously and without any appointment at Atlantic Records' New York offices, just saying that he was coming from Switzerland. Nobs arrives at the director's office, the famous Nesuhi Ertugun. The two men get along perfectly, from the very first moment and from this instant of complicity is born the "Montreux Jazz Festival".

Since its first edition in 1967, the "Montreux Jazz Festival" has continued to grow and become one of the most successful and respected in the world. Nobs' spontaneity, flair and audacity in moving to Atlantic Music's executive offices became his "trademark" and later allowed him to recruit famous artists such as Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack, among others.

During its fifty years at the helm, the Festival has been the platform for memorable events, including the concert interrupted by the fire of Frank Zappa, who inspired the group Deep Purple with his song "Smoke on the Water". From Count Basie and B.B. King to R.E.M. and most recently Salsa, Hip-Hop and Indie Rock, the Montreux Jazz Festival attracts the most refined musicians of all genres.

On December 24, 2012, a tragic accident occurred in Caux, a small village in the heights of Montreux where Claude Nobs lived in a beautiful chalet called "Le Picotin". He fell during one of his traditional cross-country ski rides in the Greysalleys, a route near his home that he knew well and that did not present any particular difficulty. He was taken by helicopter to the CHUV hospital in Lausanne in serious condition and remained in a coma for several days.

The founder of the festival died on 10 January 2013 as a result of this accident at the age of 76. He had directed Montreux Jazz Festival for nearly half a century.

Thank you for taking us to places we never thought we'd be able to go. May the music continue.

In July of the same year, the Montreux authorities renamed part of the Grand-Rue: Avenue Claude Nobs.

"The idea came to the fore quite quickly in view of Claude Nobs' stature and the international impact he had given to his city," said Montreux's syndic Laurent Wehrli.

A statue paying tribute to him was also installed and inaugurated in July 2017 in the Vernex park. It was donated to the Municipality of Montreux by the Swiss sculptor Andreas Altmann. All information HERE.

Audio recording

Listen to what Perry Richardson, author of the 4 volumes "Live from Montreux", tells about Claude Nobs

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Claude Nobs, interview (2003)

Claude Nobs, the memory of the Montreux Jazz Festival. At the age of sixty-seven, the director of Switzerland's most prestigious jazz festival shares his memories. Stories of his childhood, anecdotes of the festival, meeting with a man who has always known how to preserve the essential, the dream and the passion for music.

Journalist: Christian Jacot-Descombes

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