Montreux is situated at the foot of the Alps and on the northeastern shore of Lake Geneva. Surrounded by mountains, it benefits from a mediterranean-like climate that enables palm trees and other exotic flora to florish. With its mild climate, exotic flora, and terraced vineyards poised breathtakingly against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, Montreux is known as the "Pearl of the Swiss Riviera."
Since 1967, Montreux, Switzerland has hosted its annual summer Jazz Festival. It's creator, Claude Nobs, has managed to attract the greatest musicians of the day to this quaint resort. From it's humble beginnings as a 3-day concert event to its 16 day format of today, it has matured into the grand daddy of all european concert festivals. Rory and his band performed 5 times at the Montreux Jazz Festival: in '75, '77, '79, '85, and '94. The bootleg, "Chequered Shirt Wizard," selects songs from Rory Gallagher's performances at the Casino Barriere de Montreux in July of 1977 and 1979 during the annual Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Casino at Montreux was officially opened in 1881 as the Montreux Kursaal and became world reknowned not only for its gaming tables and palatial accomondations but also for its Symphony Orchestra that can boast being once conducted by famed russian composer Igor Stravinsky prior to the outbreak of World War I. The Casino has undergone many reconstructions since, none more notable than its rise from the ashes after the infamous fire on December 4, 1971 during a Frank Zappa concert. The fire at the casino would became the subject matter of Deep Purple's hit single, "Smoke on Water."
"We all came out to Montreux, on the Lake Geneva shore..."
Deep Purple had chosen the Casino at Montreux to record it's next album, Machine Head. The casino burned to the ground the night before they were due to record in it. "With smoke literally wafting over the water of Lake Geneva the band took up residence in The Grand Hotel and in the swiftly converted corridors and cupboards of the deserted hotel recorded the album that was to become their tour de force."
The Casino reopened in the spring of 1975 and became the lead venue for the Montreux Jazz Festival until 1992 when the Stravinsky Hall opened. In celebrating the rebirth of the Casino, the Montreux Jazz Festival assembled an all-star collection of Jazz and Blues greats: Dizzy Gillesbie, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Charlie Mingus, Clifton Chenier, Albert King (to name but a few)... and the one and only Rory Gallagher. Rory would return 3 more times to the Casino in '77. '79, and '85, and then return to Montreux for the last time in 1994 to appear in the newly opened Stravinsky auditorium. Rory can still be heard at Montreux even to this day. Shown on the grand screen in the baroque Sissi ballroom is concert footage of Rory's last gig at Montreux. So head out to Montreux, where fires are in the sky and Rory Gallagher shows you what smoke on the water is really about!