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Prince booked to return to Montreux jazz festival
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - Prince will return to the Montreux stage, closing out the famed jazz festival on July 18, with high-priced tickets expected to be snapped up quickly, organizers said on Friday.
The Minneapolis-born star last played at the Swiss event two years ago and then showed up at 3 a.m. to jam with his band at a late-night jazz cafe. That year, tickets sold out in a record 10 minutes for his performance at Stravinski Auditorium.
"The Montreux Jazz Festival will be even funkier this year because a musician of genius will perform not once but twice," organizers said in a statement, finally confirming long-standing rumors on Friday, the opening day of the two-week festival.
Rhonda Smith, Renato Net and John Blackwell will join Oscar- and Grammy-winner Prince on stage for the two shows, it said. Tickets go on sale this Saturday at 8:00 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), priced at 195 Swiss francs ($180) to stand and 480 Swiss francs ($443) seated.
Claude Nobs, founder of the festival held on the shores of Lake Geneva, told Swiss television two years ago that Prince had made two requests: popcorn and an American bottled water.
"The popcorn was easy, I brought my popcorn maker from home, but we had to send somebody all the way to Geneva to find the brand of bottled water that he wanted," Nobs said at the time.
This year, B.B. King, Herbie Hancock, Black Eyed Peas and Grace Jones are booked at Montreux, one of Europe's most prestigious summer music events. Steely Dan and the Dave Matthews Band will lead all-American celebrations on July 4, while Klaxons and Lily Allen share the spotlight on July 7.
Grammy winner Hancock, making his 30th Montreux appearance, will be accompanied by Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang and the Orchestre National de Lyon. Seats for the July 5 event, a world premiere, went for 300 Swiss francs.
Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright and Angelique Kidjo are headlining a July 11 homage to American soul singer/songwriter Nina Simone, who died in 2003.
Jean Wyclef, standing in for Lauryn Hill who has canceled her European tour, follows the same night. The Haitian-born rap star and the American Grammy-winner founded the hip-hop group Fugees.
Quincy Jones, the trailblazing producer and composer, is also expected in Montreux this weekend. Best known as producer of the album "Thriller" by the late Michael Jackson, he co-produced the Swiss festival from 1991-93, calling it "the Rolls Royce of festivals."
(Editing by Steve Addison)