“Smoke on the Water” completes 40 years! The iconic 1972 song was released by Deep Purple in their album Machine Head. Deep purple is an English rock band that pioneered heavy metal and modern hard rock. Originally formed in 1968 as a psychedelic rock and progressive rock band, the band shifted to heavier sounds in 1970.
Their song “Smoke on the Water” is known for and recognized by its central theme, developed by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. The Fender Custom Shop even recreated the famous Guitar to Commemorate the “Smoke on the Water” Anniversary.
The lyrics of the song narrates a fire incident that occurred in Montreux Casino where the band was supposed to record their latest song. Smoke on the Water tells a true story. In 1971 the band was in Montreux (Switzerland) to record their album ‘Machine Head’ in the casino of Montreux. The night before the recording there was a live concert of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
During that concert, some idiot fired a flare gun towards the roof. The roof caught fire and the whole place burned down, destroying all the equipment of Zappa’s band. Eventually, Deep Purple recorded their album in the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio.This is curated as “some stupid with a flare gun” line in the song!
Although there were no major injuries, 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 referred to the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva from the burning casino as the members of Purple watched from their hotel. “It was probably the biggest fire I’d ever seen up to that point and probably ever seen in my life” said Glover.
This major hit, reached No. 4 on the Billboard pop singles chart in the United States and propelled ‘Machine Head’ into the top 10 worldwide charts. The song has appeared on countless “greatest” lists over the past 40 years, including the Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” VH1’s “40 Greatest Metal Songs” and Q magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitar Tracks”!
Well, now you know the origin story of a song that will definitely live on forever!