We’ve all heard it — a catchy distorted guitar riff spanning over a single octave of the pentatonic scale, peppered with lower fifths that Blackmore managed to cleverly compose into a chart-topper. In fact, the song remained at the peak position of numerous record charts all over the globe, retaining the #1 in France for 64 weeks straight.
Apart from being an inexplicable mixture of hype-inducing earworm and chill song for bikers, this masterpiece also tells a story of a misfortune caused by a flame in a casino.
Based on a true story…
After renting a mobile recording studio from the Rolling Stones, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, and Ian Paice went to Montreux, CH, to commence recording of their new album which would later become the cornerstone of the modern rock music — Machine Head.
Tourists visiting Montreux enjoyed their leisure time at a huge entertainment complex which belonged to Montreux Casino nearby. However, the summer season was almost over, and the band planned to stop their “Rolling truck Stones thing” and start the recording process in the casino complex which was usually closed during winter.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
When the band arrived at the casino, they had already been in the mood for recording the album as there couldn’t have been a better closing show in Montreux at the time. Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention were rocking the theatre. What a way to begin a creative process!
But it was too good to be true. “Some stupid with a flare gun” decided to brighten up the atmosphere and fired a shot right into the rattan covered ceiling of the theatre. Much to their dismay, the audience noticed that something went terribly wrong and saw smoke coming from above them.
Zappa was the voice of reason and politely ordered the audience to exit the casino without panicking. As impossible as it may seem at that time, the people listening to Zappa & the Mothers started going through the exit door, and nobody was harmed in the process. Deep Purple members moved along, aghast at the sight of the flames raging above their heads.
The song title
Roger Glover, the bass player of Deep Purple at the time, woke up from a harrowing nightmare a couple of days after the whole thing and remembered an eerie sight: the smoke from the fire which incinerated the casino building had spread to Lake Geneva and almost completely covered it.
Now that I told you all of these, you might want to type “Smoke On The Water lyrics” on Google and actually listen to the song and hear the story from their perspective followed by the catchy hard-rock riff.