Claude Nobs, the founder and general manager of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, has died after spending several weeks in a coma following a skiing accident. He was 76.
According to CNN, Nobs had taken a nasty spill while cross-country skiing in the mountains overlooking Montreux on December 24.
Although he managed to get up and return home on his own, reports say Claude later fainted and had to be flown by helicopter to a hospital in Lausanne, where he underwent surgery and slipped into a coma.
Nobs passed away on Thursday, January 10.
Nicknamed “Funky Claude” by the band Deep Purple, Nobs kicked off the first Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967 while working at the Swiss resort’s tourism office, attracting some of the world’s biggest stars, including including Miles Davis (who got on particularly well with Nobs), Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Weather Report, John McLaughlin, Santana and Van Morrison, among hundreds of others.
The Guardian notes that despite undergoing heart surgery some six years ago, Nobs stayed on as festival director, a position he shared during the 1990s with American producer Quincy Jones, who returns each year from Los Angeles to introduce new talent.
Following news of Nobs’ death, Jones took to Twitter to pay tribute.
“There are no words to express the deep sorrow and hollowness in my heart that comes with news of Claude Nobs,” he tweeted.
Several other stars also hopped on the social networking site to offer their condolences.
Fellow funk legend George Clinton wrote:
— George Clinton (@george_clinton) January 10, 2013
Iconic British rock band Queen added:
We mourn the sudden and tragic loss of Claude Nobs, the father of the Montreux Jazz Festival, and a long-standing… fb.me/1Nads26tj
— Queen Official (@QueenWillRock) January 11, 2013
In memory of Claudes Nobs’, listen as he performs live with the Bluesharp in the video below:
Image: Montreux Jazz Festival