Montreux has a wide range of cultural events and a good reputation as a city of music. The most famous festival is the Montreux Jazz Festival, held annually in July since 1967. There is also the Montreux Choral Festival and the Nuits du Jazz de Chernex.
The Queen group worked in Montreux for many years and had owned the Montreux Mountain Recording Studios since 1979, which had been housed in the newly built casino since 1975. The casino brand of December 4th, 1971 inspired the group Deep Purple to their world hit Smoke on the Water. This tells the story of the casino brand from 1971, when Frank Zappa gave a concertthe casino burned down completely. Deep Purple wanted to record their latest LP Machine Head under so-called live conditions in the hall of the casino with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio and were in the hall as guests of the Zappa concert.
Claude Nobs, the co-founder and long-time director of the Montreux Jazz Festival, first found the Le Pavillon for the recordings of Deep Purple and it was here that the basic tracks for her most famous song were created: “No matter what we get out of this, I know we will never forget. Smoke on the water, fire in the sky. ” before they had to move to the empty Grand Hotel for the next recordings. The casino was rebuilt by 1975.Freddie Mercury, the singer from Queen, spent some of the last years of his life here. A monument was erected in his honor on the lake shore.
The first Montreux Jazz Festival took place in 1967. The initiator and organizer of the festival was the late Montreusien Claude Nobs, who notably benefited from the support of the Ertegun brothers, directors of Atlantic Records. The first edition welcomes, among others, Charles Lloyd and Keith Jarrett. In 1970, Carlos Santana gave a concert there. The festival’s programming will therefore be eclectic, offering jazz, but also blues, gospel, soul, rock and pop. In 1977, it was the longest festival in Europe, from 1 st toJuly 25, 1977.
Montreux Jazz welcomed legendary jazz figures (Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, etc.). The stars of the festival are Miles Davis (who gave eight concerts from 1971 to 1991) and BB King(which has performed there more than 20 times). Quincy Jones is the godfather, and co-produced the festival from 1991 to 1993. Rock artists are not left out (Deep Purple, Van Morrison, Santana, Eric Clapton, Sting, Bob Dylan, etc.). Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Black Sabbath and Canned Heat also performed in Montreux, but as part of the Super Pop de Montreux also organized byClaude Nobs (1969-1974).
Today, the festival also hosts hip-hop, electronic music, and world music.
The festival has contributed to the city’s worldwide popularity. It always takes place, once a year in July.
We can mention the following anecdotes:
the song Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple was written in Montreux. She evokes the fire at the Casino de Montreux during Frank Zappa’s concert, theDecember 4, 1971, during the Super Pop Montreux;
the piece Bonzo’s Montreux, solo by drummer John Bonham (nicknamed “Bonzo”) of the group Led Zeppelin, was recorded inSeptember 1976 in Montreux (Mountain Studios);
Queen’s last album with Freddie Mercury, Made In Heaven (1995), was produced at the group’s studios, Mountain Studios in Montreux. A statue of Freddie Mercury, located on the quays below the Henri Nestlé Covered Market (Place du Marché), pays tribute to the artist, who was very attached to the city. He is featured in his opening costume for the 1986 Wembley concert, facing the lake with his right fist raised. Sculpted by Irena Sedlecka, commissioned by the remaining members of Queen as well as friends and family of Mercury, it was inaugurated onNovember 25, 1996by Montserrat Caballé. The cover of the Made in Heaven album is a photo of the statue in front of Lake Geneva.
Cully Jazz Festival
With 9 days of music, more than 30 paying concerts and many free concerts, the festival has become an unmissable event for lovers of jazz and a friendly atmosphere. No less than 60,000 people invade the alleys, cellars and quays of Cully, a wine-growing village located in a dream setting.
Montreux Jazz Festival
Created in 1967 by Claude Nobs, the Montreux Jazz Festival makes the shores of Lake Geneva vibrate every year in July. Jazz virtuosos, pop stars, legendary rock groups make up the festival’s impressive prize list. 16 days of concerts, as many free venues as there are paid stages, 250,000 festival-goers – the ingredients for a lively atmosphere on the quays of Montreux.
The Montreux-Vevey Classical Music Festival, known worldwide as September Musical, brings together a selection of the best symphonic and chamber music ensembles, but also brilliant conductors and prestigious soloists and young talents.
Queen the band
Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals) and John Deacon (bass). Their earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works by incorporating further styles, such as arena rock and pop rock.
Before forming Queen, May and Taylor had played together in the band Smile. Mercury was a fan of Smile and encouraged them to experiment with more elaborate stage and recording techniques. He joined in 1970 and suggested the name “Queen”. Deacon was recruited in February 1971, before the band released their eponymous debut album in 1973. Queen first charted in the UK with their second album, Queen II, in 1974. Sheer Heart Attack later that year and A Night at the Opera in 1975 brought them international success. The latter featured “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which stayed at number one in the UK for nine weeks and helped popularise the music video format.
The band’s 1977 album News of the World contained “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”, which have become anthems at sporting events. By the early 1980s, Queen were one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world. “Another One Bites the Dust” from The Game (1980) became their best-selling single, while their 1981 compilation album Greatest Hits is the best-selling album in the UK and is certified eight times platinum in the US. Their performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert is ranked among the greatest in rock history by various publications. In August 1986, Mercury gave his last performance with Queen at Knebworth, England. In 1991, he died of bronchopneumonia – a complication of AIDS – and Deacon retired in 1997. Since 2004, May and Taylor have toured under the “Queen +” name with vocalists Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert.
Estimates of Queen’s record sales range from 170 million to 300 million records, making them one of the world’s best-selling music artists. In 1990, Queen received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music from the British Phonographic Industry. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Each member has composed hit singles, and all four were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2005, Queen received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors. In 2018, they were presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Accompanied by a guide and an audio guide, follow in the footsteps of Freddie Mercury in Montreux. You will learn more about the relationship the singer had with Montreux through photos, anecdotes and exciting stories.
Thanks to its guided tours, Freddie Tours offers you to discover in an original way, the rich musical past of the city and the strong bond that Freddie Mercury, the singer of the group Queen, had with Montreux. Our excursions will take you to the places that the British stars have trod in their footsteps to work, relax or have fun, while crossing the musical universe of this group that has become a legend.
Exclusive evenings (Freddie Evening) with Peter Freestone, Freddie Mercury’s personal assistant for more than 10 years, are also offered in exceptional locations and on certain dates.
Freddie Mercury Statue
“If you want peace of mind, come to Montreux” said Freddie Mercury (1946-1991). In addition to residing there, he recorded six albums with Queen, including “Made in Heaven”. In memory of his presence in Montreux, the bronze statue of Freddie Mercury has adorned the promenade des quais since 1996.
Singer of the rock group Queen, Freddie Mercury settled in Montreux for the serenity of the place. He became the owner of a recording studio where he produced his last album with the group Queen: “Made in Heaven”.
Duck House – Freddie Mercury’s Vacation Home
From the late 1970s until his death in 1991, Freddie Mercury visited Montreux again and again. The famous “Duck House” is located directly on the shores of Lake Geneva and can be booked at Interhome.
Freddie Celebration Days
Every year since 2003, the first weekend of September, a special tribute is paid to the immense star that was Freddie Mercury, emblematic singer of the British group Queen and great lover of the city of Montreux, tragically disappeared in 1991.
Queen: The Studio Experience
Queen: The Studio Experience is a museum in Montreux, Switzerland, dedicated to the British rock group Queen. It is located in the former Mountain Studios in the Casino Barrière de Montreux. Queen made recordings in the studio from 1978 to 1995. Inside the Casino Barrière in Montreux, the legendary “Mountain Studios” has seen artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Queen parade between its walls. In 2013, this place was rehabilitated into an exhibition space entirely dedicated to Queen, who recorded 6 albums there between 1978 and 1995.
The museum was opened December 2, 2013 by band member Brian May. The museum showcases memorabilia from the band. The collection includes handwritten song lyrics (including a concept version of One vision), costumes worn during performances, studio equipment, promotional material, singles, etc. There are also various musical instruments, such as John Deacon’s bass guitar, Roger Taylor’s drum set, and a replica of Brian May’s synthesizer. Protected behind a plate of glass are the very last lines written by Freddie Mercury when he was at Montreux in 1991. The museum shows the history of the group Queen, and their relationship with Montreux.
Casino Barrière de Montreux
The Casino Barrière de Montreux has an area of 10,000 m2 reserved for entertainment with slot machines, table and electronic games, poker… It also houses 3 restaurants, 2 bars, 2 terraces, a superb swimming pool as well as the former “Mountain Studios”, space now dedicated to the Queen group.
Montreux Jazz Experience shop
A nod to the Colchique vinyl store that Montreusians knew well and located a stone’s throw from the Queen Studio Experience, this space will be dedicated to music.