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Montreux Celebration

Montreux musical history in 1971


Super Pop 1971

The Montreux pop concerts go on in 1971 but it becomes a bit uncomfortable. The report of the Montreux Tourist Office mentions: "The Autoritie’s, with our support and help, have decided to apply the law, and in order to avoid drug dealings and dissemination in town, it was decided that the concerts would be organised in the afternoons only" ! Pot, herb or Marijuana still go around - and following bands are performing :

Spirit of John Morgan

The British quartet is already a fish out of water, gasping for Rock & Blues in a Technicolor age of psychedelia. So they create their own, an entire album's worth of strong, shadowed, Rock & Blues numbers underlet by magnificent musicianship and powerful rhythms. The set opener, a menacing cover of Graham Bond's I Want You, is a case in point, stalker-like in its intensity, with John Morgan's organ conjuring up a phantom of the opera from which there is no escape. Marc Rocky Demelemester (guitars & vocals), Thierry "Kérassios" Varipatis (five string double bass) and Jean-Pierre Prevotat (drums) form the band.

Stone the Crows (with singer Maggie Bell)

They came for the first time at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1970. Stone the Crows replaced that evening the Beach Boys who had to cancel their tour. Carl Wilson being sick.

Jethro Tull

A British Rock band, formed in 1967-1968. Its music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson, whose first band starts in 1963 in Blackpool and is known as The Blades. Initially playing Blues Rock with an experimental flavour, it has, over the years, incorporated elements of classical, Folk and Ethnic music, Jazz and art Rock. The release of Tull's best-known work, Aqualung coincides with the Montreux concert in 1971. On this album, Anderson's writing voices strong opinions about religion and society. Though consisting of distinct tracks, there is a common narrative thread leading some to label it as a concept album. The title track and Locomotive Breath remain staples of the world’s classic Rock stations and, to this day, are rarely left out of Tull's live act.

Procol Harum

Led by vocalist Gary Brooker, Procol Harum sets the standard for progressive Rock in the late 1960s and early '70s. Despite numerous line-up changes throughout the years, the high standard of musicianship and song crafting remains a constant for Procol Harum. Is is best known for its 1967 hit single A Whiter Shade of Pale, which is not only a regular item on classic singles polls, but also regarded as being a seminal track in the development of Pop music and particularly progressive Rock music. Procol Harum has a devoted following throughout its career; its music, although being principally noted for its classical influence, also embraces the Blues and pure Pop music. Procol Harum consists of Gary Brooker (keyboards, vocals), Robin Trower (guitar), Chris Copping (bass, organ) and B.J. Wilson (drums).

Tir Na Nog

An Irish band of the early 1970s, consists of Leo O'Kelly and Sonny Condell. Its music mainly consists of its own compositions, based on strong Celtic roots and typically featuring intricate acoustic guitar playing and close harmony singing. It tours the Folk clubs of England, plays live on John Peel's radio show and releases three studio albums. Tir Na Nog also tours internationally, as a support act for various Rock bands, including Jethro Tull, The Who and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

John Mayall (with Don Sugar Harris)

English Blues singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, spectacular harmonica player and great band leader, John Mayall is for years the principal point of reference of the English Blues scene. His band, the Bluesbreakers, acts as a conveyor belt between the 50s Blues revival and 60s Blues Rock, raising many talents that make history in British Rock. In fact, perhaps Mayall makes more history as a talent scout than as a musician. With Jon Mark at the guitar and Johnny Almond at the sax, Mayall releases Turning Point (Polydor, 1970), perhaps his masterpiece, a purely acoustic album that adopts a style half way between free-form and sophisticated, granting each cut more structural freedom, offering for the first time original compositions by the group. Don Sugarcane Harris puts down the guitar and picks up the violin after the lack of success for Don & Dewey, his first Rock duo in the 1950’s (oddly enough the group's songs become hits for other artists such as the Righteous Brothers and the Premiers). Classically trained as a violinist, Harris' skill at improvisation starts attracting attention from the Rock world, and soon he is appearing on records by John Lee Hooker, Frank Zappa and Johnny Otis. In 1970, Harris joins forces with John Mayall, and they perform in Montreux.

Ten Years After

An English Blues Rock band, most popular in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, founded by Alvin Lee and Leo Lyons. Ric Lee joins in August 1965, and Chick Churchill a year later. In August 1969, the band performs a breakthrough American appearance at Woodstock; their furious-to-soft-to-furious rendition of I'm Going Home is featured in both the subsequent film and soundtrack album and catapults them to star status.

Mick Abrahams

The roots of Mick Abrahams' musical career are typical of aspiring guitarists in the mid-sixties, taking in stints with R&B groups like The Hustlers, The Toggery Five, Screaming Lord Sutch, Neil Christian's Crusaders (replacing Jimmy Page) and his own McGregor's Engine. By late 1967, Mick becomes a founder member of Jethro Tull, and throughout 1968 the band builds up a reputation based on the already distinctive Blues guitar of Abrahams and the flute playing and wild stage persona of Ian Anderson. The band's unique blend of Blues, Jazz and Rock is reflected in its first album This Was, an immediate UK chart hit. However, having two such strong personalities as a twin focus is always going to be a recipe for musical incompatibility, and at the end of 1968, Abrahams jumps ship. While Tull sails a new course, away from the Blues under Captain Anderson, Mick forms his own band, dubbs Blodwyn Pig by a stoned hippy friend just back from the Buddhist trail. At that stage, Blodwyn Pig looks destined for great things - but the old ogre of musical differences reares its ugly head, and Abrahams leaves his own band. Blodwyn Pig soldieres on for a while, but Mick's presence is too vital a factor in their success, and the Pig died. Abrahams soldieres on with the Mick Abrahams Band and continues to release albums by himself and with reunited versions of Blodwyn Pig. The band enjoys success throughout Europe with a great gig in Montreux.

Led Zeppelin

August 7th and 8th, 1971 at the Montreux Casino. The highlight of this show was ..... Robert Plant. He was simply in a fabulous good mood thoughout the show. There is a rarely known fact that for the 1971 concert in Montreux, Robert Plant, not one to be dictated what to do or what to wear, sported a Montreux T-shirt on stage and in the process fully endorsed Claude Nobs and the town of Montreux. The logo resembled a Japanese looking poster that misled experts to think the concerts took place in Japan. Not so! This logo was a strike of genius at the time with its intended Hippie target.

A detailed report of this show is available on our Montreux Celebration website on the dedicated page: Led Zeppelin 1971

Pink Floyd

The band produces an exceptional event on September 17th and 8th 1971 in Montreux at the Pavillon. Pink Floyd cannot not resist playing at the September Musical (Montreux’s annual classical music Festival), together with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Two surprising performances after the release of their 5th album Atom Heart Mother in October 1970.
This album was collaboration with avant-garde composer Ron Geesin. One side of the album consists of the title piece, a 23-minute long rock-orchestral suite. The second side featured one song from each of the band’s then-current vocalists (Roger Waters’ "If", David Gilmour’s "Fat Old Sun" and Rick Wright’s "Summer 68"). Another lengthy piece, "Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast", was a sound collage of a man cooking and eating breakfast and his thoughts on the matter, linked with instrumentals. It's different from the previous Floyd's productions by means of a more complex orchestration and the use of classical instruments such as a brass section, choirs and vocals sounding almost like Gregorian chants (John Aldiss Choir). This is the second performance of Pink Floyd in Switzerland and more precisely in Montreux. Their first show was performed September 21st and 22nd 1970 at the Montreux Casino. They were booked a year later, December 9th, at the Hallenstadion in Zürich by Good News and Super Pop Montreux who united their effort in organizing concerts in Switzerland.

Audio recording, Claude Nobs introduces Pink Floyd :

Richie Havens

He is one of the most impassioned & inspiring performers in all of popular music. Havens first rises to fame in the Greenwich Village Folk-music scene that also fosters Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. In 1967, Havens becomes one of several Village-based artists signed to Verve Records, and releases several albums to mostly local notice. In 1969, Havens opens the Woodstock Festival, although he is initially scheduled to appear fifth on the bill. His performance receives continuous ovations and he keeps playing encores until he runs out of songs. Finally, he decides to improvise a version of Motherless Child, to which he adds a verse with the word freedom repeated over and over; the song is featured in the Woodstock film, and becomes an international hit.

Super Blues from Chicago

Why is the Blues so universal in appeal? How does a genre of music, derived from the hardships faced by post-sharecropping African-Americans in the first half of the 20th century, become one of the most enduring art forms in the world? Taken literally, the Blues is a simple musical template based on predictable chord progressions and lyric lines repeated ad infinitum. So, how, in this age of programmed drum beats and digital synthesizers, can a 70 year old black man from Chicago touch a roomful of white guys in Montreux with nothing but a cocked half smile and a fistful of whisky tinged verses about his sexual bravado ? The answer to this question is embodied by seminal Chicago singer and harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold before a packed house at the Pavillon Hall in Montreux. Super Blues from Chicago are: Billy Boy Arnold (harmonica) Luther Johnson (guitar, voice), Cash McCall (bass), Sonny Thompson (piano), and Bob Crowder (drums). A second Blues legend guitarist will complete the band. He is nobody else than Johnny Shines.

1971 ends dramatically

September 4th, Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention have given one of the best pop concerts ever in Montreux. As Don Preston starts playing the intro of the song King Kong, a fan in the audience fires a Rocket or a Roman candle into the ceiling. A complete story of this concert on the dedicated page.

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