Claude Nobs, Founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival Dies After Skiing Accident

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 11, 2013 12:24 pm

The founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival has died after several weeks in a coma following a skiing accident.

Claude Nobs, 76, launched the summer festival in 1967 while working at the Swiss resort's tourism office, attracting some of the world's biggest stars, including Miles Davis, Ray Charles and Prince, to perform there.

Claude Nobs

Claude Nobs | Photo by Yvan Hausmann

He was referred to as “Funky Claude” in the popula

r song Smoke on the Water by rock band Deep Purple, written about a fire that burned down a Montreux casino during a Frank Zappa concert in 1971.

Swiss-born Nobs was injured while cross-country skiing on Christmas Eve near his home in the village of Caux overlooking Montreux and Lake Geneva, the festival's secretary-general, Mathieu Jaton, said on Monday.

Despite heart surgery some six years ago, Nobs stayed on as festival director, a position he shared during the 1990s with American producer Quincy Jones, who returns each year from Los Angeles to introduce new talent. Nobs often joined musicians on stage, playing harmonica, sometimes accompanied by his dogs.

Sold-out highlights at last year's festival included concerts by Bob Dylan, Lana Del Rey and actor and musician Hugh Laurie.

This year's event is scheduled for July.