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Prince announced as star act at Montreux

The 43rd Montreux Jazz Festival began on Friday, followed by the announcement that Prince would be the star act in the closing gala concert on July 18.

Tickets for two shows by the Minneapolis-based pop star, now aged 50, go on sale on Saturday, but will not be cheap: SFr195 ($180) for standing room and SFr480 for seated.

Seats for his most recent performance in Montreux in 2007 sold out in ten minutes. The author of Purple Rain, among many other hits, played in the main Stravinsky Auditorium and also took part in an impromptu jam with his band at a late-night jazz café.

“The Montreux Jazz Festival will be even funkier this year because a musician of genius will perform not once but twice,” organisers said in a statement on Friday.

Other main attractions at the festival this year include B.B. King, Herbie Hancock, Black Eyed Peas and Grace Jones.

Steely Dan and the Dave Matthews Band will lead all-American celebrations on July 4, while Klaxons and Lily Allen share the spotlight on July 7.

Grammy winner Hancock will make his 30th Montreux appearance, accompanied by Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang and the Orchestre National de Lyon.

Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright and Angelique Kidjo are headlining a July 11 homage to American legend Nina Simone, who died in 2003.

The festival this year has a budget of SFr29 million and organisers say sales have gone well with 85,000 of 95,000 tickets sold. An estimated 200,000 people are expected to visit the town during the festival. and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR