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Montreux Rock Festival, The

IF WOODSTOCK was a defining moment of the 60s, Montreux had a similar impact on the 80s, but for entirely different reasons. Every April, NOEL EDMONDS, MIKE SMITH, GARY DAVIES et al would ship out to Switzerland to report and present on this pan-continental synthfest from the town that frequently awarded “Best Programme Ever” awards to the Hale and Pace Christmas Special, backed by BBC and its European counterparts, who all got a namecheck, Jeux Sans Frontiere-style, in zooming-over the sea towards Switzerland titles. Chart-throbbing line-up featured usual suspects: DURAN DURAN, CULTURE CLUB, SPANDAU BALLET, A-HA, GO WEST, even one-hit HOLLYWOOD BEYOND got a look in, as did some hapless German freakshow – usually OPUS “Live Is Life, Na-na-na-na-na” or THE ART COMPANY “Susanna” – because they had to. Following roll call of items appeared in seemingly reckless abundance: Roland keyboards, those hexagonal syn-drum things (see ROCK SCHOOL), those over-the-shoulder guitar-keyboard things, rolled-up jacket sleeves, three female backing singers (black one in the middle) and PETER POWELL interviewing ANDREW RIDGELEY by the harbour. And just when you’d managed to forget the horror, they’d repeat it all at Christmas.



  1. graysonscolumn

    August 25, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Can’t pin the twin nuisances of Opus and The Art Company on Germany, I’m afraid – they are Austrian and Dutch respectively.

    Note the “are” – still going all these years later, albeit to steadily diminishing returns 🙂

  2. Pat

    December 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    I vaguely remember this as well. I was hard pressed to find anything about it on Google. Wheras BBC1 broadcasted it in England, it was syndicated here in the States, sometimes on late night time slots. For syndication, Noel Edmonds hosted the ’85 version, Nina Blackwood the ’86 version, and there was no host for the ’87 version. MTV got involved in ’88 and syndicated it as “Rockit ’88”. I find this made for TV music festival mostly boring….Ship big names to Montreux, Switzerland on BBC and the Swiss Board of Tourism’s dime and lipsync their big hits. A waste of time for everyone involved.

  3. Tom Ronson

    October 24, 2022 at 4:07 am

    Come on, Live is Life by Opus is a solid-gold banger. Better than bloody Falco and his Rock Me Amadeus nonsense any old day.

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