DEEP PURPLE's Ian Gillan On Passing Of Montreux' Claude Nobs - "We Shall Miss Him Terribly"

January 16, 2013, 2 years ago

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DEEP PURPLE singer Ian Gillan has issued a statement regarding the passing of Claude Nobs, who founded the world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The 76-year-old suffered a fall while practising cross-country skiing during the Christmas holidays. He died on January 10th. Nobs even earned himself a mention as "funky Claude" who rescues children in Deep Purple's 1973 classic 'Smoke On The Water'. The song is about a fire that burned down the Montreux Casino, where the festival was held, during a FRANK ZAPPAa concert in 1971.
Gillan's statement reads: "I had just checked in to The Palace Hotel in Montreux prior to our appearance at the Jazz Festival. The elevator doors opened and out whooshed Claude on a scooter; had it been anyone else I would have been surprised. Flying by, he waved over his shoulder and called out ‘Hi Ian, see you later’ – then he was gone. No doubt on his way to move things along in the right direction, because the Montreux Jazz Festival was his baby. He mothered it from infancy to what it has grown into…Internationally, the most highly respected and enjoyable annual event of its kind.
After the fire at the casino in 1971, Claude became a good friend to Deep Purple. The lunches at his house were memorable; he was always the perfect host. He became known as Funky Claude after his bravery when the blaze took hold; he went down into the basement to lead out the frightened kids trapped there. ‘Funky Claude was running in and out, pulling kids out the ground’ as it says in the lyrics of 'Smoke On The Water'. The words are a biographical outline of the making of our album Machine Head. The project could never have been completed had it not been for the brilliant efforts of the man who made things happen. We shall miss him terribly. Thank you Claude for all you’ve done."

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