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Timeline

Founded in 1967 by Claude Nobs, the Montreux Jazz Festival has become over the years an unmissable event, generating fantastic stories and performances. We take a look back at 15 dates that have forged the legend of the Festival and left their mark on the history of music.

1967

Claude Nobs, René Langel and Géo Voumard organize the first edition of the Festival over three days with a budget of 10,000 francs. Headline acts include Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette.

Claude Nobs, Festival founder
© Claude Nobs‘ Archive

1968

Bill Evans‘ concert at the Festival is immortalized on an album and earns a Grammy Award. The Chillon Castle is pictured on the cover

Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival, enregistré le 15 juin 1968

1969

Ella Fitzgerald plays at the Festival for the first time. Les McCann & Eddie Harris record the live album „Swiss Movement“, which becomes the first jazz record to sell over a million copies.

Ella Fitzgerald in 1969
© François Jacquenod

1970

Less than one year after his Woodstock performance, Carlos Santana gives his first concert at Montreux.

© François Jacquenod

1971

The fire at the Montreux Casino during a Frank Zappa concert inspires Deep Purple to write the hit “Smoke on the Water”. That same year, Claude Nobs convinces Aretha Franklin to perform at the Festival by offering her a box of chocolates!

„Funky Claude“ during the fire at the Montreux Casino.
© Alain Bettex

1976

The incredibly intense Nina Simone concert becomes one of the most legendary performances of her career.

© Georges Braunschweig

1980

Marvin Gaye gives his only performance at Montreux Jazz Festival. After watching concert recordings at Claude Nobs’ home, he agrees to be filmed on stage.

© Georges Braunschweig

1982

Swiss artist Jean Tinguely imagines the poster of the Montreux Jazz Festival and creates the highly recognizable logo.

1986

Two of New York’s greatest artists, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, create in tandem the poster for the 20th anniversary of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

1991

Quincy Jones co-produces the Festival from 1991 to 1993. Miles Davis performs for the 10th and final time in Montreux, alongside Quincy Jones. First concerts recorded in HD.

© Edouard Curchod

2002

A great friend of Claude Nobs, David Bowie gives one of the most emblematic concerts of the Festival. For a curtain call, he plays his Berlin album „Low“ in its entirety!

© Lionel Flusin

2007

Prince serves up a surprise jam session after his first concert in Montreux. He will return in 2009, then for three nights in 2013.

© Marc Ducrest

2013

Claude Nobs passes away in January. The Festival’s audiovisual archives are listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register under the name “The Claude Nobs Legacy”.

© Lionel Flusin

2016

The Festival celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with numerous special projects and nods to its history. Deep Purple plays “Smoke of the Water” with Frank Zappa’s son.

© Emilien Itim

2019

Elton John offers a historic show at Saussaz Stadium before 15,000 people. This is the Festival’s first-ever stadium concert.

Elton John square
© Lionel Flusin