In August 1987, I travelled around Europe and was invited by my uncle Oigen to visit them in Switzerland. They were staying in a village with their aunts called Villars-sur-ollon. The nearest train station I could find was at Montreux and so, in all innocence I took the train to Montreux.
It just so happened to be the week of the Montreux Jazz Festival with not a room available. I took the Funicular up to the small village of Territet and phoned my uncle to please come and fetch his homeless nephew.
The words of Deep Purple’s song “smoke on the water” and its eternal opening riff which recalls the fire that burnt the casino to the ground in 1971, still always bring me back to that memory of Montreux and the line; “Funky Claude was running in and out pulling kids out the ground’ seems apt to recall on this day because it was Claude Nobs, the founder of the Jazz festival who bravely rescued several youngsters during that fire.
Claude Nobs, the local tourism officer who devised a plan to attract tourists to the small town by creating the Montreux Jazz Festival died today in 2013.
– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (serendipiday.blogspot.com)