Montreux Jazz prepares to blow out 50 candles

The festival has come a long way since its jazz origins

Van Morrison, Deep Purple and Quincy Jones are just some of the big names to headline the 50th edition of the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival, which runs from June 30 to July 16.

This content was published on April 14, 2016 minutes
Simon Bradley, Montreux

The line-upExternal link for the special birthday event, unveiled on Thursday, also includes Patti Smith, Jean Michel Jarre, Neil Young, Simply Red, Jamie Cullum, Buddy Guy and Santana, the organisers said.

Jazz musician Charles Lloyd, who played at the first Montreux Jazz festival in 1967 with Keith Jarrett, will open one of Europe's most prestigious summer music events,

Festival director Mathieu Jaton, 40, who took over from founder Claude Nobs in 2013, announced the programme in the lakeside town.

"It’s a very emotional moment," Jaton said, adding that the programme was a tribute to the incredibly dense history of the festival.

The 50th edition of one of Europe's most prestigious summer festivals will be the fourth under Jaton, who succeeded the late founder Claude Nobs who died after a ski accident in January 2013.

While no one name stands out this year, the festival has the ability to create unique evenings. This year brings together big-name stars such as Patti Smith and P J Harvey. Van Morrison is twinned with Charles Barclay and Quincy Jones and friends will play the same night as Simply Red.  Reggae legend Ernest Ranglin will play with friends including Courtney Pine and Tony Allen.

A traditional Brazilian night will feature Ana Carolina, Joao Bosco and Martinho da Vila and will be followed by an African Women all-stars, including Angélique Kidjo, Asa and Dobet Gnahore.

The festival will be closed by regulars Deep Purple and Zappa plays Zappa. During a Frank Zappa concert in 1971, the Montreux casino burned to the ground. The resulting Deep Purple hit, "Smoke on the Water", elevated the festival to cult status.

External Content

This year's budget is CHF28 million ($29 million) for the event that draws some 250,000 fans to the lakeside resort. Tickets will go on sale from April 15 at 10hrs (Swiss time) ranging from CHF55 to CHF385 for seats for Muse.

This year’s birthday edition features a raft of other special events.

In September the biennial Festival Images outdoor photography exhibition in nearby Vevey will feature a show focusing on Nobs and his jazz festival.

From May, a musicians’ residence and exchange programme will be launched featuring Swiss and Brazilian stars. Concerts will be held throughout Brazil and will culminate in a series of concerts in July.

External Content

A new online platform, Montreux Jazz Live, was also launched in February of this year to showcase a huge archive of historic concert videos. It represents the culmination of an eight-year project to digitise the festival's video archive, which goes back to 1967. Montreux Jazz Live features over 800 videos and includes classic performances by Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Motörhead, together with interviews, photo galleries and set lists.

The archives, digitised by researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), were recognised by UNESCO in 2013 as part of the world's cultural heritage.

The festival

The Montreux Jazz Festival is the brainchild of Claude Nobs. He organised blues and jazz concerts in the lakeside city in the 1960s. These included the Rolling Stones, who he brought to Montreux in 1964 for their first performance on the European continent.

Nobs, who trained as a hotel chef, gave up his job as an accountant at the Montreux tourist office to organise the festival full time.

The first Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967 lasted three days and had a budget of CHF10,000 ($8,000).

This year's festival takes place from June 30 – July 16. It marks its 50th anniversary.

Nobs, who died in December 2013 while cross-country skiing near his chalet above Montreux, would have celebrated his 80th birthday this year in February. 

End of insertion
In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?