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Quick Fact – Inspired by Life

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Montreux Casino, 1971


The sight of Switzerland’s Montreux Casino burning down on December 4, 1971 was the inspiration for Deep Purple’s hit song, Smoke on the Water.

A fan firing a flare gun during a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention concert caused the conflagration of this then-90-year-old establishment. The casino subsequently was rebuilt.

Here are the lyrics, which tell it all:

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground

Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

They burned down the gambling house
It died with an awful sound
Funky Claude was running in and out
Pulling kids out of the ground
When it all was over
We had to find another place
But Swiss time was running out
It seemed that we would lose the race

Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

We ended up at the Grand Hotel
It was empty, cold and bare
But with the Rolling truck Stones thing just outside
Making our music there
With a few red lights, a few old beds
We make a place to sweat
No matter what we get out of this
I know, I know we’ll never forget

Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

Songwriters: Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger D Glover, Jon Lord, Ian Paice

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  1. Who knew? Not me! “Smoke on the Water” isn’t one of Deep Purple’s better songs (“Lazy,” “Hush, and “Tokyo” come immediately to mind), but it was one of their biggest hits. I never bothered to try to figure out or look up the lyrics and I didn’t know about the Montreux fire anyway. So for me, even though this was a Quick Fact, it went as deep as purple. Thank you, Doresa, for all the fascinating historical gambling tidbits and stories. Keep ’em coming!

  2. admin

    Hi Deke,
    Thanks so much for your awesome comment and kind words.

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