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Montreux Celebration

Artists & People in Montreux


David Bowie and Montreux

Determined to get rid of his drug addiction, David Bowie, by his real name: David Robert Jones, born on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, England, decided to come to Europe in 1976. He found a large chalet in Blonay, a small village near Montreux, on the shores of Lake Geneva, and settled there with Angie, his wife and Zowie, their son.

They enjoyed their stay there from 1976 to 1982 and named their nest: the "cuckoo-clock".

In 1982, the English pop star moved to upper Lausanne (Sauvabelin) to find a haven of stability and fade into anonymity. He purchased an early twentieth-century residence called the Château du Signal, which was built by a Russian prince and is decorated with woodwork and ornate faience. The house was used in the filming of Claude Chabrol’s film Merci pour le chocolat (Thank You for the Chocolate) in 2000.

Bowie married Iman Abdulmajid, (usually known just as "Iman") at a civil ceremony in Lausanne on April 24th 1992.

His choice of Switzerland was first of all for financial reasons.

David Bowie having previously been swindled, he decided to live in a country where the tax department would not be too greedy. Furthermore he got away from the drug dealers and other spongers who took advantage of him in the US.

Respect for the privacy of the individual in Switzerland, is what enabled him to work in peace and quiet: I'm left in peace here. It's the only place in the world I gladly return to. The singer loved this place as much as he loved skiing, and the Alps were only a few minutes from the shores of Lake Leman.

His attachment to this region has remained strong. His son has completed his education in a private school near Montreux and is also filled with the "leman" culture.

He regularly frequented the Mountain Studios, where he recorded many albums with David Richards.

Here are the albums recorded in Montreux:

5 "Heroes" (1977)
Lodger (1979)
Tonight (1984)
Never Let Me Down (1987)
Black Tie White Noise (1993)
The Buddha of Suburbia (1993)
1. Outside (1995)

Also noteworthy is his collaboration with the band Queen on the track "Under Pressure" at Mountain Studios in Montreux. The story of this song is explained in detail on Montreux Celebration in its dedicated page Queen & Montreux.

Bowie has written more than 600 songs and sold over 140 million albums! The "Let’s Dance" album alone has sold over 8 million copies. He has performed with his band on stage about 5000 times throughout the whole world and has acted in 28 different movies.

In May of 1998, Bowie put his residence on the market, bringing to an end a 15 year association with Switzerland, reportedly because his wife Iman prefers city life to the bucolic existence of the Swiss countryside.

On 10 January 2016, David Bowie died at his New York City apartment, having suffered from liver cancer for the previous 18 months. His death occurred two days after the release of his twenty-fifth studio album, Blackstar, which coincided with his 69th birthday.


Claude Nobs talks about David Bowie

David Bowie, an artist with many faces but also with many talents.

In 1995, Claude Nobs, Montreux Jazz Festival founder attended the opening of the singer's painting exhibition in London. Story of a friendship.

Director and camera: Bertrand Theubet
Presenter: Florence Heiniger


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