Claude Nobs, the Swiss founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, passed away recently at 76. He founded the Festival in 1967. Nob was immortalized by Deep Purple in their song “Smoke on the Water” as “Funky Claude,” who helped save attendees from a fire that occured during a Frank Zappa concert held in a Montreux casino.
Nob was legendary for accommodating musicians’ whims (such as a Ferrari for Miles Davis to drive, a diamond watch for Nina Simone, and special mineral water for Prince) as well as for the equally legendary parties he held at his chalet. He was also known for jamming on harmonica with musicians on the Montreux Festival stage — often accompanyed by his St. Bernard dogs. He published his memoirs in 2007, entitled Live! From Montreux.
The most recent Montreux Jazz Festival was attended by more than a quarter million people over a two week period. The next Festival will be held in July.