Skip to content

Jaquelyne Ledent-Vilain 1945 – 2024

It is with deep emotion that we pay tribute today to Jaquelyne Ledent-Vilain, a prominent figure in the European music industry who played a crucial role in making the Montreux Jazz Festival a haven of peace for artists.

Born on February 17, 1945, Jaquelyne was an English teacher before working with Claude Nobs in 1974. Passionate about literature, she discovered a whole new world at the age of thirty: the music business. Admitting she knew nothing about it, she gave herself six months to see if she liked it. “I started doing my homework: every weekend, I brought stacks of vinyl records and read Billboard like the Bible.” She developed a relationship of trust and complementary friendship with Claude. She was the rigorous one, he was the artist. By his side, she worked for over thirty years at Warner Elektra Atlantic Records (WEA), traveling worldwide with the artists.

Jaquelyne et Herbie Hancock, by Mehdi Benkler

Every summer at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jaquelyne took care of the backstage area, where she reunited with longtime friends and looked forward to meeting the new generations. When introducing herself to artists, she would simply say, “I am the backstage girl.” Whether they were emerging talents or global stars, all quickly discovered that Jaquelyne was much more than that. During their stay, she was both a protector, a trustworthy ally, a strict coordinator, and a fantastic storyteller. The fiercest rockers nicknamed her “mom” while Prince greeted her with a mischievous smile and a bow. She could tell you many stories about AC/DC, Mariah Carey, or Nina Simone.

Jaquelyne Ledent-Vilain, by Lionel Flusin

Jaquelyne was also known for her famous lined notebooks, A4 size, which she never parted with. She wrote everything, one page per day, one color per hall. “At first, everyone laughed. Even Claude. Yet he found it quite convenient that I could give him the information he needed when he ran into me.” After each concert, Jaquelyne would put down her notebook and gather everyone backstage to applaud the artists when they got out of stage. A gesture that surprised and touched the artists, accustomed to being applauded on stage, rarely backstage.

Yesterday, on January 18, 2024, Jaquelyne made her final exit from the stage. We invite everyone—family, former colleagues, staff, managers, and artists—to come together to applaud, in turn, this great lady who “simply loved people”.

Farewell, Jaquelyne.