GENEVA (AP) — Claude Nobs, the founder and general manager of the Montreux Jazz Festival, whose passion for music and artistry introduced generations of legendary musicians to international audiences on the Swiss stage, has died. He was 76.
The Jazz Festival said Nobs, a native of Montreux, died Thursday after sustaining injuries from a fall while cross-country skiing in nearby Caux-sur-Montreux on Christmas Eve. He was taken to the hospital and fell into a coma from which he never recovered.
Nobs worked his way from being a chef and director of Montreux’s tourism office, where he organized charity concerts, to overseeing one of the most iconic music festivals in the world.
On its website, the festival said Nobs’ death came by “surprise as if to remind us once more, that in life as in music, each great performance could be the last one even if the show must go on.”
A visit to the New York offices of Atlantic Records led to the first festival in his home city in June 1967, featuring musicians such as Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette.
The festival was an overnight success, building over the decades on Nobs’ passion for jazz, as much as his gumption and contacts abroad.
“‘And why not?’ You would repeatedly ask the same question when we tried to explain why a project would not be feasible,” festival officials wrote in an homage to Nobs on the web site that praised his audacity to dream big. “The Montreux Jazz Festival is the ultimate proof of that! But not the only one!”
From that meeting in New York, Nobs went on to gain career-forming introductions to musical greats such as Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin, who would make her first European tour at his request. The musical acts at the festival also would gradually broaden to include rock and pop.