The History


Claude Nobs inaugurates the first Montreux Jazz Festival, which lasts three days. At the top of the bill: Charles Lloyd and Keith Jarrett. Twelve jazz groups take part in the first competition for European Jazz Groups and Dusko Goykovic is one of the winners. The History begins…


The Festival is held from June 12 to 16. The Bill Evans Trio tops the bill and Nina Simone performs one of her first concerts.
John Surman and Jan Garbarek are among the winners of the soloists' competition.


Carlos Santana donne son premier concert au Festival. Cette année-là, Montreux accueille également Duke Ellington, Bill Evans et Stone the Crows.
Carlos Santana gives his first concert at Montreux. That same year, Montreux also welcomes Duke Ellington, Bill Evans and Stone the Crows.

© 2004 Lionel Flusin - Montreux Jazz Festival Foundation


Aretha Franklin - convinced to play here by Claude Nobs with a … chocolate box! - and Roberta Flack are in the line-up.
The fire at the Casino during a Frank Zappa concert inspires Deep Purple to write the famous hit “Smoke on the Water”.

Roberta Flack, 1971 © Georges Braunschweig, A publishing Company Limited


Artwork © Hamish Grimes - 1973

Miles Davis gives his first performance at Montreux, where he has become an icon. He will give 7 more concerts at the Festival until 1991.
Joan Baez left her mark by arriving at the Festival riding a horse.

Have a look at The Definitive Miles Davis at Montreux DVD Boxset


Fifteen days of music: blues, gospel, soul, rock, pop and, of course, jazz with Earl Hines, Helen Humes, Jay McShann, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Sonny Rollins, Bill Wyman, Van Morrison, Larry Coryell, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Cecil Taylor, to name a few. In addition, African music is represented by Randy Weston and Brazil with Airto Moreira and Milton Nascimento.


The biggest European Festival is even longer, from July 1 to 24, and is open to all kinds of music, from free jazz to Brazil, South African and Indian music, jazz, rock and disco. No doubt that the audience will remember the performances by Don Ellis and his Big Band, Don Cherry, Etta James, Shakti, Don Pullen and the jam session conducted by Count Basie himself. Not to forget Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson.


A joint venture with the Sao Paulo Festival brings a Brazilian atmosphere to Montreux. Gilberto Gil, Airto Moreira, Ray Charles, Mary Lou Williams, Stan Getz, Miriam Makeba, Bill Evans and Kenny Burrell perform and Gilberto Gil, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham and musicians from the Stan Getz group even play on the terrace of the Casino!


The poster for the 20th anniversary is created both by Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. The Montreux Jazz is exported to Atlanta. Playing that year: Simply Red, Eric Clapton, Chris Rea, Talk Talk, Al Jarreau, Michel Petrucciani, to name just a few.

Eric Clapton, 1986 © Edouard Curchod, A publishing Company Limited


The 25th anniversary—20 nights—is co-produced by Quincy Jones and begins with an acoustic concert by Sting, followed by Bootsy Collins, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Milton Nascimento, Rachelle Ferrelle, The Atlanta Superchoir, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Champion Jack Dupree, Allen Toussaint, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and many others. But, without any doubt, the best night is the fantastic Miles Davis concert with the Gil Evans Orchestra and the George Gruntz Concert Band under the direction of Quincy Jones.


The Festival leaves the Casino and invests in the Convention Centre, where Robert Plant, Gilberto Gil, Herbie Hancock, Paolo Conte, Chaka Khan, B.B. King, Etta James, James Brown and Chris Isaak performed. Opening of the Montreux Jazz Café.


Opening concert reunites five musical giants: Marcus Miller, Eric Clapton, Steve Gadd, Joe Sample and David Sanborn.
Ray Charles plays for the 4th and last time at the Auditorium Stravinksi.

Have a look at the full programme of that year visiting the concert database


The Festival beats all its sales records: 220,000 visitors. R.E.M. and Blondie perform.
The jazz piano competition, which still exist today, is set up. Have a look at the Foundation 2 webpage to learn more about the Montreux Jazz competitions


For its 35th edition, the Festival reinvests in the Casino. Concerts of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Alanis Moriseette, Tricky, Sigur Ros, Georges Duke and Run DMC.
The Montreux Jazz is exported to Monaco.


For 17 evenings, the Auditorium Stravinski hosts many memorable performances with, among many others, Morcheeba, George Benson, Bonnie Raitt, Tom McRae, Craig David, Chico César, Herbert Grönemeyer, Joao Gilberto, Lisa Stansfield, ZZ Top and Krokus. Some of the artists who've already performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival are back this summer, such as Jethro Tull, Yes, Gilberto Gil, Maria Bethânia, Natalie Cole, Noa, The Crusaders, Randy Crawford, Van Morrisson, The Pretenders, Simply Red, Jamiroquai, etc. The big event this year is without contest Radiohead that certainly didn't disappoint the happy few who attended the concert.

A few floors down, the Miles Davis Hall resounds with daring performances, groovy rhythms and resourceful shows starring Cypress Hill, The Rapture, The Streets, Appliance, Echoboy, Goldfrapp, Laurent Garnier &Bugge Wesseltoft, David Holmes Free Association, Jaga Jazzist, Jimi Tenor, Nada Surf, Stereophonics, Tricky, Flaming Lips, Susheela Raman, Mercan Dede, the Orchestre National de Barbès, King Crimson, Joe Jackson Band, Roy Ayers, Dwele, The Roots, Ellen Allien, Richie Hawtin, 2 Many DJ's and many others.

The new hall situated at the Casino Barrière is animated for seven evenings, with in particular Michel Jonasz, Tony Benett, Charles Lloyd, John Abercrombie, Pierre Audétat, Jean-François Bovard, Soweto Kinch and Cassandra Wilson. Not to be forgotten: Richard Galliano paying a tribute to Astor Piazzolla and Biréli Lagrène paying homage to Django Rheinhardt.

As for the night-birds, the Montreux Jazz Club offers unforgettable jam sessions, with for example Keziah Jones, who turned up unexpectedly. Last but not least, a large spectrum of Swiss and International DJ's perform every night at the Montreux Jazz Café.

Have a look at the pictures of that year's concerts in the image database.


Event’s 40th anniversary and Claude Nobs’ 70th birthday.
Julian Opie creates three posters representing Deep Purple, a triptych referring back to the one Keith Haring dreamed up in 1983. Watch the Festival Posters Collection
Tribute to the Ertegun brothers, founders of Atlantic Records.


Exclusive Prince concert followed by a surprise jam session at the Montreux Jazz Café. Exceptional workshop with Quincy Jones.
Publication of the anthology retracing 40 years of the Festival entitled “Live From Montreux” (available here).

The Festival’s expanded offer of free events, almost 300 in total, was met with high attendance and great enthusiasm from festival-goers. In addition to its regular program, the Montreux Jazz Café returned as the Festival’s jam session venue, with surprise guests including India.Arie, Peter von Poehl, Monty Alexander, and Prince of course. As for the MDH Club, it solidified its status on the electronic music scene thanks to a solid and edgy program that attracted big crowds. Sets by Carl Craig and Mix Master Mike were must-see events. New nightclub Studio 41 captured the public’s attention right from the opening night, with a headline set by Kenny Carpenter.


Gala concert celebrating Quincy Jones’ 75th birthday,  Erykah Badu, Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys and Deep Purple.
An operation to salvage the Festival’s archives is set in motion, in partnership with the EPFL under the direction of Montreux Sounds.
First permanent Montreux Jazz Café opened at Geneva airport.


Carlos Santana, BB King, Sting and Paul Simon were the worthy representatives of this 45th edition. Arcade Fire, who won a Grammy Award for Best Album of 2011 and is considered one of the most influential bands of the Indie Rock scene, performed exclusively at the Montreux Jazz Festival as their only concert in Switzerland this year. Unique concerts have attracted audiences with exceptional musical worlds: Andreas Vollenweider, Tommy LiPuma, or the homage to Tom Waits. Established artists and newcomers took stage: the sparkling Natalie Cole, the intriguing James Blake or the new Brazilian voice Marai Gadù. A very remarkable event took place with Trombone Shorty. Trombonist, trumpeter and singer, he wowed the audience of the Miles Davis Hall. With obvious enthusiasm and incredible ease, he performed the classic songs of James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Prince and Michael Jackson, and did them justice with his performance. The stage presence of the young man from New Orleans was without question. It will remain one of the most vivid moments of the festival.

The free programming is no exception: the concerts, as well as the DJ sets from the Montreux Jazz Café, Studio 41 and Music in the Park have attracted many visitors. The Montreux Jazz Café has confirmed its reputation as talent scout.

Once again, the artistic quality of Fondation 2 is undeniable, bringing a cultural dimension to the Festival and offering an opportunity of choice for young talent who will create the jazz of tomorrow. The International Competition for solo piano, as well as for professional singers have both generated
excitement and joy.

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Live Music at its best, Since 1967

Founded by Claude Nobs in 1967, over the years the Montreux Jazz Festival has become an unmissable event for music fans in Switzerland and around the world. Its stages have been graced by all of music’s greats, from Miles Davis to Ray Charles and from David Bowie to Prince.

Whereas Jazz constitutes the Festival’s historic core, other styles of music were quickly integrated into the Festival, bound together by a common thread of mutual curiosity and enthusiasm.

Read the history