Did You Know: Smoke on the Water

Did you know that the legendary rock song “Smoke on the water”, written by British hard rock band Deep Purple, is actually a true story?

On 4 December 1971 Deep Purple had set up camp in Montreux, Switzerland, to record an album using a mobile recording studio at the entertainment complex that was part of the Montreux Casino (referred to as “the gambling house” in the song lyric).

On the eve of the recording session a Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention concert was held in the casino’s theatre.

In the middle of Don Preston’s synthesizer solo on “King Kong”, the place suddenly caught fire when somebody in the audience fired a flare gun into the rattan covered ceiling, as mentioned in the “some stupid with a flare gun” line.

The resulting fire destroyed the entire casino complex, along with all the Mothers’ equipment.

The “Smoke on the water” that became the title of the song (credited to bass guitarist Roger Glover, who related how the title occurred to him when he suddenly woke from a dream a few days later) referred to the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva from the burning casino as the members of Deep Purple watched the fire from their hotel across the lake.

In 2004, the song was ranked number 426 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, and in March 2005, Qmagazine placed “Smoke on the Water” at number 12 in its list of the 100 greatest guitar tracks.