The Swiss Montreux Jazz Festival is definitely one of the most prestigious jazz events in the whole world. From today on, it will have to continue without Claude Nobs, its founder and general manager who passed away on January 10th at the age of 76. This is Jazz Club Jury‘s tribute to the man that created one of the most successful and respected jazz festivals ever.
January 10th 2013. This day will be remembered forever by all members of the jazz world. Not for a good news, unfortunately. It was on that day, in fact, that Claude Nobs passed away in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was the founder of Montreux Jazz Festival, one of the top jazz festivals in the world. He fell and was severely injured while on a skiing trip during the Christmas holidays. He passed away with his beloved family and friends close to him.
Initially apprenticing as a cook, Nobs worked at the Tourism Office of Montreux. He later went to New York and this is where it all started. He met Nesuhi Ertegün – the president of Atlantic Records at the time – and later successfully contributed to Aretha Franklin‘s first trip to Europe.
At 31, while working as director of the Tourism Office back in Montreux, Nobs organised the first jazz festival, bringing big names such as Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett and Ron McLure into town. That was the beginning of one of the world’s top jazz events: Montreux Jazz Festival. Throughout the years the biggest names in music have performed at Montreux: Miles Davis (who was also made honorary host during the ’90s), Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, Pink Floyd, Chicago, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Earth, Wind & Fire, Santana and many more. Initially a jazz-only event, Montreux Jazz Festival started broadening its scope in the ’70s by including genres such as blues, rock, pop and funk.
This year the festival will be held from July 5th to July 20th. It is going to be a special edition, the first without Claude Nobs, the heart and soul of the event. He leaves behind a great legacy and thousands of friends and fans all over the world. This summer’s Montreux Jazz Festival is going to be a great party, as usual, but today the thoughts are all for Claude Nobs. The man that gave a great contribution – more than 50 years of dedicated hard work, sweat, tears and a lot of amazing achievements – for the benefit of jazz.
Thank you Claude Nobs, thank you for everything.