Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Classic Songs: Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple

The story behind Smoke on the Water, by Deep Purple is about as familiar as its signature guitar riff. But what the heck lets go there again for nostalgia’s sake.

Hair. Lots of hair.

In December 1971 British rock band Deep Purple hired the Rolling Stones portable recording studio and headed to Montreux, Switzerland on the shore of Lake Geneva to record an album.

They had hired the Montreux Casino to record in. There was one final concert at the casino by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention then the place was shutting down for annual renovations. This would give Deep Purple time to move in and use the auditorium to record their Machine Head album.

The rest as they say is history. Some ‘stupid with a flare gun’ did indeed ‘burn the place to the ground.

Five Facts

  1. Deep Purple along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin are credited with being the founding pillars of Heavy Metal Music.
  2. Founding band member and guitarist – Ritchie Blackmore wrote the famous four chord guitar riff. He claimed it was an inverted interpretation of the famous movement from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No.5. You know the one – da da da da.
  3. ‘Funky Claude was running in and out’. Funky Claude was Claude Nobs, the director of the Montreux Jazz Festival who helped some of the audience escape the fire.
  4. Smoke on the Water got as high and No.4 on the USA Billboard Hot 100 chart. In Australia a land with AC/DC like heavy metal pedigree it peaked at No.54. Not the chart success that an all time classic rock song would expect. But then again the power of Smoke on the Water is in its ability to inspire millions of wannabe rock stars to hammer it out on stutteringly on their electric guitar in their bedroom. So easy to play – so cool – better loud.
  5. The Machine Head album was released in March 1972 and Smoke on the Water as a single in May 1973. Lead singer – Ian Gillan resigned from the band in June 1973. However he did return between 1984-1989 and then again from 1993 to the present day.
Enjoy the graphics. Put on the head phones and crank it up.
The aftermath of the fire at the Montreux Casino – December 1971. A daft nights work for some stupid with a flare gun.

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