Montreux icon Funky Claude dies
‘Funky’ Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, has died at the age of 76.
He’d been in a coma since a skiing accident during his Christmas holiday in Switzerland.
A statement on the festival website says: “On January 10 you left us, only a few days after your accident in your beloved mountains, overlooking the lake you were so fond of.
“You will always remain the one who questioned certainties. ‘And why not?’ You would repeatedly ask the same question when we tried to explain why a project would not be feasible. Reality was never challenged over your wildest dreams – the Montreux Jazz Festival is the ultimate proof of that.
“We carry on, and will continue to carry on in your spirit everything you taught us. Thank you, Claude.”
Nobs launched the festival in 1967 along with Geo Voumard and Rene Langel. Atlantic Records brothers Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun helped turn the trio’s ambitions into reality. Their first headline acts were Charles Lloyd and Keith Jarrett. By the 1970s the event’s repertoire had expanded to include Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rory Gallagher and many others. By the 1990s over 200,000 fans attended the festival, which is now the world’s second-largest after Montreal.
Nobs is named in Deep Purple classic track Smoke On The Water, which recounts the story of a fire at the the event in 1971, during which ‘Funky’ Claude helped Frank Zappa fans escape from the flames. Purple themselves finally played at Montreux in 1996 and have been back five times since.