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In pictures Half a century of Montreux Jazz

It is almost impossible to imagine the lakeside city of Montreux without the annual Montreux Jazz Festival, which turns 50 this summer. A new book tells the story of the renowned festival.

Half a century of existence has resulted in the creation of some legendary material – images, recordings and publications. In “50 Summers of Music”, around 60 stars share their Montreux experience. Illustrating the book by music journalist Arnaud Robert are 175 photos, many previously unseen.

It was in the summer of 1967 that Swiss chef and tourism promoter Claude Nobs transformed his love of jazz into the seed of a global phenomenon along the shores of Lake Geneva.

Sure, other festivals now draw larger, younger and less well-heeled crowds. But in terms of sheer music history though, none have richer pickings. The festival had grown over the years with a budget not be scoffed at - CHF28 million ($28.5 million).

Sometimes, you just have to be there when it happens. Notable moments include artists Prince and 3rdEyeGirl bringing down the house – everybody on their feet – only three summers ago. The festival has been a stage for the creativity and serendipity of countless other big names, such as Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King and Nina Simone.

This summer’s line-up is no exception and features Van Morrison, Neil Young, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, ZZ Top and Deep Purple - who recorded “Smoke on the Water” after watching the Montreux Casino burn while Frank Zappa was playing in 1971.

The festival runs from July 1-16.


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