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Montreux Celebration

Artists & People in Montreux


Rolling Stones and Montreux

The Rolling Stones performed a memorable show April 24th 1964 at the Golden Rose annual television broadcasting event, together with the English singer Petula Clark, it was their first live appearence outside their country and was the beginning of their fame, and the songs "Mona", "Route 66" and "Not Fade Away" were already in the charts.

The band will then regularly return to Switzerland and in particular to Geneva, Vevey, Lausanne, Villars and Nyon in French-speaking Switzerland. In Zurich, Bern, Basel, Frauenfeld, Dübendorf for the German-speaking part. The Stones will perform in Switzerland no less than fourteen concerts in fifty years of touring.

Note the infamous concert on 14 April 1968 at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, attended by an audience of nearly 10,000 people. A harbinger of the violence of 1968, the situation quickly escalated after the concert began, with many spectators then starting to break the chairs in the room. Several hundred police officers intervened to restore order. At the end of May 1968, two Jimi Hendrix concerts ended in a tidy battle between the young people and the Zurich police.

In 1971, following the Montreux Casino fire, the Rolling Stones rented their mobile studio to Deep Purple so they could record their album Machine Head. You will find the complete story on the page dedicated to Deep Purple.

From mid-September 1972 Keith and his family were installed first in Gyron and then in a chalet called "Le Pec Varp" in Villars, high up in the mountainside between Montreux and Martigny. Charlie Chaplin, then 83 years old, was one of his neighbours.

It is a fact that in 1975, after touring the United States to promote "It's only Rock and Roll", Keith wanted to find the ideal place to record "Black and Blue". He soon decided the Stones needed a place where they could get a new sound. "Somewhere where we can get a real shitty, rock n' roll sound".

Naturally, they chose Switzerland.

In october everyone set up at Mountain Studios in Montreux, where Charlie Chaplin's son was the staff engineer.

In the state-of-the-art control room, in front of the best musicians, a 19-year-old kid just arrived from England : David Richards. Located a the shore of the lake, the Mountain Studios, in which the young assistant was working, was equipped with the most modern sound equipment in the world.

The Stones sleep during the day and work all night. Something that David's prestigious namesake, Keith Richards, is struggling to get used to. One night, as the group celebrates around a huge banquet on the first floor before starting to work, the phone rings at the studio. It was Mick Jagger's wife. David joins the band and shyly slips a word to the singer. On the other side of the table, Keith Richards sleeps, his face immersed in his plate. No one is surprised. David Richards displays this same phlegm, behind his control room.

Keith Richards, then said about Switzerland: "I’m actually quite ignorant of a lot of things that go on because I’m forced to live in these wooden huts for quite a long part of the year, in Switzerland".

"The fans come up to me on the street and say : Hey, you’re a Rolling Stone ! I’m in a band. How do we get to be really big and earn lots of money? What do you have to do to make a really good group" ?

And I say, "Well, look, why don’t you try starving ? They don’t understand that man, they’re so rich. I mean, have you ever heard of a good Swiss musician ? a good Swiss painter or writer" ?

After Montreux, the Stones moved back to Munich. Despite enjoying the champagne air of the Alps, Keith was, according to Nick Kent, concerned that staying too long in the sanatorium of the Western world was bound to sap his creative juices.

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The Rolling Stones in rehearsals in Montreux in 1972

A new visit was made by the Stones to Montreux on 21 May 1972. Incognito this time, to rehearse for more than ten days their new show in Rialto room of the Scala cinema, in front of the Casino (now Adam's café), transformed for the occasion into a rehearsal studio.

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