Founder of Montreux jazz fest in coma after ski fall

GENEVA, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Claude Nobs, founder of the

Montreux Jazz Festival, one of Europe's most prestigious summer

music festivals, is in a coma after a cross-country skiing

accident during the holidays, festival organisers revealed on

Monday.

The 76-year-old Swiss, who has lured some of the world's

greatest artists to Montreux - including Miles Davis, Ray

Charles and Prince - was operated on in a Swiss hospital after

his fall, it said.

"He has remained to date in a state of unconsciousness. His

condition requires further additional tests," the festival board

said in a brief statement.

The accident occurred on Christmas Eve while skiing near his

home in the village of Caux overlooking Montreux and Lake

Geneva, festival secretary-general Mathieu Jaton told Reuters.

Nobs launched the festival in 1967 while working at the

resort's tourism office. He became known as "Funky Claude", from

a line in the song "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, about a

fire which burned down Montreux casino during a Frank Zappa

concert in 1971.

Despite heart surgery some six years ago, he remains

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.

Nobs often joined musicians on stage, playing harmonica,

sometimes accompanied by his dogs.

Sold-out highlights last July included concerts by Bob

Dylan, American chanteuse Lana Del Rey and British actor and

musician Hugh Laurie.

Jaton is assuming Nob's responsibilities and will ensure

smooth management of the 47th edition of the festival set for

July 5-20, the statement said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Paul Casciato)

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