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Claude Nobs dies

CLAUDE NOBS, the founder and general manager of the Montreux Jazz Festival, died Thursday after sustaining injuries from a fall while cross-country skiing in nearby Caux-sur-Montreux on Christmas Eve. He was 76. Nobs, a native of Montreux, launched the festival in 1967 with the support of Atlantic’s Nesuhi Ertegun, who helped him book Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette as headliners, and continued to grow it over the years. The musical focus of the fest gradually expanded to include non-jazz acts like Deep Purple, who wrote and recorded “Smoke on the Water” after a fire broke out while they were performing with Frank Zappa at Montreux in 1971. Two years later, Nobs became Director of the Swiss branch of WEA, giving him added clout in booking heavyweights to his annual labor of love. By the 1990s, he was sharing festival-directing duties with Quincy Jones and bringing in Miles Davis as an honorary host. Among the artists who played the fest last July were Bob Dylan, Lana Del Rey and Hugh Laurie. Nobs, who sometimes sat in on harmonica during sets at the fest, was referred to as Funky Claude, the nickname coined by Deep Purple in the lyric to their most famous song. The 47th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival will take place as scheduled from July 5-20. (1/11a)

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