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Montreux Jazz Festival.  Bjork and a glass of champagne.

Montreux Jazz Festival. Bjork and a glass of champagne.

What one does not do to be close to an idol.

Some fans have been waiting for hours in the pouring rain in front of a hotel to catch a glimpse of a Hollywood star. Others attend every concert of their favorite band because they hope to let them into the backstage area at some point in order to realize it at the latest: Even superstars can smell sweat after toiling on stage for two hours.

Well my good friend Lucas and I didn’t want to settle for that 30 years ago, when we first visited the Montreux Jazz Festival. We wanted more. We wanted to go to the villa of festival founder Claude Nobbs.

We had heard a lot about the place before but weren’t sure where the chalet was. We didn’t let that discourage us. At the train station in Montreux we got into a cab and tried to explain to the driver at our French school where we wanted to go: “Conduisez nous à la villa de Claude Nobs … s’il vous plaît.”

Claude Nobbs, who died in 2013, was a huge fan of music and railroads.

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Al-Soghra Waha: The taxi driver left without further inquiry. He drove his car and drove more and more up the mountain. At one point I asked Lucas, “Where is this guy taking us?” I admit I was a little scared.

Shortly thereafter, the taxi stopped in front of a rather stately building. In front of him stood a handsome man. Countless badges hung around his neck. As soon as Lucas and I got off the cab, the man started smiling and opened the door for us. Before we understood what was happening to us, we were already standing at Claude Nobbs’ villa.

The chalet is furnished with antique furniture, various jock boxes, miniature trains and musical instruments. However, I can remember more about everything. Because the place looked like a dream come true, but you don’t realize it came true until you leave the wonderful place.

Have we met Claude Nobbs? I don’t know that anymore. All I know is that very few people were standing nearby. But there was no one Lucas or I would have known. Far and away there is neither star nor star nor there are also famous C or Servelat.

The afternoon at the chalet ended with some wine, some appetizers from the buffet and a game of ping pong. At some point, Lucas and I were afraid someone would spot us. We are weak again.

Story conclusion: Claude Nobbs shared his villa with everyone, be it stars or fans.