Claude Nobs, the founder of the Montreux jazz festival, has died, following a ski accident, which resulted in him being in a coma for several weeks.
The Guardian reports that Nobs was cross-country skiing in the village of Caux, near to Montreux and Lake Geneva. His accident happened on Christmas Eve (2012), the festival’s secretary general Mathieu Jaton confirmed on Monday (January 7, 2013).
Claude – who was aged 76 when he died – began the legendary and highly respected festival back in 1967, whilst he worked at the tourism office at the Swiss resort. Some of the world’s biggest stars have played at the festival, including Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan and Prince. He’s not been afraid of taking risks and potentially upsetting the jazz fraternity; last year, the ‘love her or hate her’ singer Lana Del Rey was one of the lead artists performing at the festival. His renown amongst musicians is widespread and Deep Purple even immortalised the man in song, referring to him as ‘Funky Claude’ in their song ‘Smoke on the Water.’
Six years ago, Nobs underwent heart surgery, but remained as a festival director; a position he shared with the American producer Quincy Jones during the 1990s. Each year, Jones returns from Los Angeles to introduce new talent to the festival crowd. Nobs could often be found onstage, joining in with the musicians that he had booked.