Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams head line-up at Montreux Jazz

Thu Apr 3, 2014 9:58am EDT
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By Stephanie Nebehay

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Stevie Wonder will headline the Montreux Jazz Festival, fulfilling a longtime wish of its late founder Claude "Funky" Nobs, in its 48th edition which also brings red-hot Pharrell Williams to its famed stage.

The line-up for the July 4-19 festival, unveiled on Thursday, includes former Blur front man Damon Albarn, hip-hop duo Outkast, the veteran Van Morrison, Massive Attack, and R&B Californian newcomer Banks.

Nobs, who died after a ski accident in January 2013, tried to bring Wonder to Montreux, one of Europe's most prestigious summer music festivals, but the 1 million Swiss franc ($1.13 million) purse was out of reach at the time.

At the presentation, Mauritian pianist Jerry Leonide, who opens for French drummer Manu Katche on July 14, played a few bars of "Superstition" as Wonder's name flashed on an electric board.

"We tried to get Stevie many times. This time we made a collective offer through the International Jazz Festival Organisation, along with Istanbul and North Sea in Denmark," Montreux festival director Mathieu Jaton told Reuters.

Seats for Wonder's concert at Stravinsky Auditorium on July 16 go on sale on Friday for a whopping 450 Swiss francs ($510), with standing places at 185 Swiss francs. Tickets for Williams' show on July 7 will cost either 135 or 370 Swiss francs.

American producer Quincy Jones, co-director with Nobs in the 1990s, calls Montreux the "Rolls-Royce" of festivals. This year's budget is 25 million Swiss francs for the event that draws some 250,000 fans to the lakeside resort.

"GET LUCKY", "HAPPY"   Continued...

Stevie Wonder poses with the Billboard Icon Award backstage at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada May 20, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Marcus