Montreux Jazz Festival and other music tales

In 1967 Claude Nobs, Géo Voumard and Lance Tschannen founded the Montreux Jazz Festival. This legendary event has since been held annually in June and July. The festival has taken place over 50 times in Montreux and is now one of the most renowned, best-established and largest jazz festivals worldwide, attracting crowds of over 200,000 music fans. Jazz icons such as Herbie Hancock, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Charles Lloyd have all graced the stage. In the early days, the Montreux Jazz Festival already boasted an impressive line-up of illustrious rock and pop musicians, with performances by Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Leonard Cohen, James Brown, Ray Charles, Herbert Grönemeyer and Deep Purple to name a few. Nowadays, well and lesser-known musicians from all over the globe play the 17 stages.

The town on Lake Geneva has long been renowned for its music connections and attracted many musicians who wished to record albums there. Global hits like “The Show Must Go On” by Queen were written and produced in Montreux. The arguably most famous anecdote dates back to 1972. The English rock band Deep Purple were in Montreux to record their new album. That same evening, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention were giving a concert in the casino, when an overexcited fan allegedly fired a flare gun at the concert hall ceiling. It caught fire, and the ensuing inferno spread throughout the entire building. Watching from a safe distance, Deep Purple saw the smoke from the blaze billowing out over Lake Geneva. And this, it is said, was the inspiration for “Smoke On The Water”.

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