A Brief History
On December 4, 1971, rock legend Frank Zappa and his band, The Mothers of Invention, were holding a concert at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland, on the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva, when disaster struck.
A misguided fan thought it was a good idea to launch a flare from a flare pistol into the ceiling of the place, causing a fire that brought the building down. The fire was significant enough on its own, but was immortalized by the Deep Purple hit, “Smoke on the Water,” since Deep Purple was at a nearby hotel waiting to record their own songs at the Casino the next day.
Deep Purple members watched the fire in horror and awe, and found the inspiration for their iconic song, the lyrics mentioning Montreux, “Frank Zappa and the Mothers,” Lake Geneva, and “some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground.” They also mentioned the “smoke on the water and fire in the sky.”
(Note: Nobody died in the Casino fire.)
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For more information, please see…
Thompson, Dave. Smoke on the Water: The Deep Purple Story. ECW Press, 2004.
Zappa, Frank and Peter Occhiogrosso. The Real Frank Zappa Book. Audible Studios, 2023.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of Zappa with the Mothers of Invention in 1971, is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1928 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice. For further explanation, see Commons:Hirtle chart as well as a detailed definition of “publication” for public art.
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