Claude Nobs (February 4, 1936 – January 10, 2013) was the founder and general manager of the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Nobs was born in Montreux, Switzerland. After apprenticing as a cook, Nobs worked in the Tourism Office of Montreux. He later went to New York, where he met Nesuhi Ertegün, the then-president of Atlantic Records. He also met Roberta Flack and invited her to the Rose d’Or de Montreux. Later, Aretha Franklin made her first visit to Europe thanks to him.
At the age of 31, while he was director of the Tourism Office of Montreux, he organized the first jazz festival featuring artists such as Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett, Ron McLure and Jack DeJohnette. This new festival was an immediate success, and gained a reputation far beyond Switzerland. Nobs quickly transformed his festival into an international gathering place for lovers of jazz.
In 1971, Deep Purple decided to produce and record their album Machine Head in Montreux. The group was also scheduled to record at the Montreux Casino, shortly after Frank Zappa performed. During Zappa's concert, the venue caught fire and reduced the Casino to ashes. Nobs saved several young people who had hidden in the casino, thinking they would be sheltered from the flames. This act earned him a mention (as Funky Claude in the line Funky Claude was running in and out pulling kids out the ground) in the song "Smoke on the Water", which is about the incident. Also, on the inner liner of the original album, Nobs' picture was the only one labeled with a name other than those of the band members themselves.
In 1973, Nobs became the director of the Swiss branch of Warner, Elektra and Atlantic. On the live Jethro Tull album Bursting Out (recorded on 28 May 1978 in Bern), one can hear Nobs announcing "...herzlich willkommen in der Festhalle Bern!" (Welcome to the Festhall of Bern).
During the 1990s, Nobs shared the directorship of the festival with Quincy Jones, and made Miles Davis an honorary host. The festival continued to diversify and was no longer exclusively devoted to jazz.
In 2004, the festival attracted 200,000 visitors. On 25 September 2004, Nobs received the Tourism Prize of Salz & Pfeffer. The canton of Vaud gave him the "Prix du Rayonnement" for his contributions to music. He has also received an honorary doctorate.
In 2005, during the referendum campaign on registered partnership in Switzerland for same-sex couples he came out publicly to support the new law. Claude Nobs was in a relationship with his partner, Thierry Ansalem,since 1987.