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Smoke On The Water

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Smoke on the Water Songfacts


This song is known for and recognizable by its central theme, a four-note "blues scale" melody harmonized in parallel fourths. The riff, played on a Gibson ES-335

“We all came out to Montreux, on the Lake Geneva shoreline / to make records with a mobile, we didn't have much time.â€

The lyrics of the song tell 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 (rented from the Rolling Stones and known as the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio - referred to as the "Rolling truck Stones thing" and "the mobile" in the song lyrics) 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. During the gig, a fire broke out. In the middle of Don Preston's synthesizer solo on "King Kong", the place suddenly caught fire. Somebody in the audience had fired a flare gun into the ceiling, at which point the rattan covering started to burn, 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. The "Funky Claude" running in and out is referring to Claude Nobs, the director of the Montreux Jazz Festival who helped some of the audience escape the fire.

Left with an expensive mobile recording unit and no place to record, the band was forced to scout the town for another place to set up. One promising venue (found by Nobs) was a local theatre called The Pavilion, but soon after the band had loaded in and started working/recording, the nearby neighbors took offence at the noise, and the band was only able to lay down backing tracks for one song (based on Blackmore's riff and temporarily named Title nº1), before the local police shut them down.

Finally, after about a week of searching, the band rented out the nearly-empty Montreux Grand Hotel and converted its hallways and stairwells into a makeshift recording studio, where they laid down most of the tracks for what would become their most commercially successful album, Machine Head.

Ironically, the only song from Machine Head not recorded in the Grand Hotel was "Smoke on the Water" itself, which had been recorded during the abortive Pavilion session. The lyrics of "Smoke on the Water" were composed later, and the vocals were recorded in the Grand Hotel.

"Smoke on the Water" is the only song on Machine Head that is not played on his famous Fender Stratocaster.

The first solo is performed on guitar by Ritchie Blackmore, and the second and final solo is performed on an organ by Jon Lord until the song fades out.

The song is also well known for the thumping one-note bass line that accompanies the main riff.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is the best-known music festival in Switzerland and one of the most prestigious in Europe; it is held annually in early July in Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva.

The Montreux Jazz Festival was founded in 1967 by Claude Nobs, Géo Voumard and René Langel. The festival was first held at Montreux Casino. It lasted for three days and featured almost exclusively jazz artists. The highlights of this era were Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Evans, Soft Machine, Weather Report, Nina Simone, Jan Garbarek, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Originally a pure jazz festival, it opened up in the 1970s and today presents artists of nearly every imaginable music style. Jazz remains an important part of the festival. Today's festival lasts about two weeks and attracts an audience of more than 200,000 people.

In the 1970s, the festival began broadening its scope, including blues, soul, and rock artists, for instance Marianne Faithfull, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple, Prince and many others. In December 1971, Montreux Casino burned down (an event memorialized in the Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water"). The festival was forced to move until the new Casino was ready in 1975.

Towards the end of the decade, the festival expanded even more, including music from all continents (with an emphasis on Brazilian music) and lasting a full three weeks. Santana came to Montreux for the first time in 1970; Van Morrison played in 1974. Other artists included Weather Report, Camarón de la Isla, Soft Machine, Chuck Berry, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Eric Clapton, Bo Diddley, Stan Getz, Airto Moreira, Joe Henderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Charles Mingus, Etta James, Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Gilberto Gil, Ray Charles, James Booker, Hermeto Pascoal, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Rory Gallagher, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Elis Regina, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Pasadena Roof Orchestra, New Order, Jaco Pastorius, Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band, André Geraissati, Korni Grupa, Joe Satriani, and many more.

The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio is a mobile recording studio owned by the musical group the Rolling Stones. Numerous bands and artists have recorded music using it, including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Lou Reed, Bob Marley, Horslips, Fleetwood Mac, Status Quo and the Rolling Stones themselves.

The concept for The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio first came about in 1968 when The Rolling Stones decided they needed a new environment in which to record music. Tired of the 9-to-5 limitations of a regular studio, the Stones decided to use Mick Jagger's new country house (Stargroves) in England to record new music. All the necessary equipment had to be brought to the house, so the idea of putting a control room into a van was brought up by Ian Stewart. Under Stewart's guidance, a variety of top engineers and producers, including Glyn Johns, were consulted in the project's creation, which was then taken to Dick Swettenham's company Helios Electronics. Known for making mixing consoles for some of the most exclusive studios of the time, the company then produced the first working version of The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Originally only intended for use by The Stones, the unit soon gained popularity among the likes of other classic bands, such as The Who, The Faces, and Led Zeppelin.

From the beginning the Mobile Studio was quite experimental. It was the first fully fitted mobile multi-track studio, and could be adapted to whatever specifications the job required. When recording orchestral music for the Frank Zappa film "200 Motels", problems arose when the silver aluminum body kept showing up in the background of the film. The entire unit was then painted with a camouflage color scheme to hide it in the trees. It sported this look for many years to come.

Originally the unit supported a maximum of 20 microphones and had an 8-channel recording format. As the Mobile began to be used for live recording, the 8-channel format quickly proved insufficient and an upgrade to 16-track took place.

Several classic albums were recorded with the Mobile Studio, including most of Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin III (1970) and Led Zeppelin IV (1971), the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile On Main St. (1972), as well as the Stones' 1969 Hyde Park concert. The unit was used in a large variety of locations, everywhere from halls to barns to castles and the casino at Montreux, Switzerland. During the making of the sixth Deep Purple album, Machine Head, the Mobile nearly caught fire as it stood next to the casino, which was set ablaze during a Frank Zappa concert. This incident became the inspiration behind Deep Purple's most famous song, "Smoke on the Water", which mentioned the Mobile in the lyrics ("We all came out to Montreux ... to make records with a mobile", and later referring to the Mobile as the "Rolling truck Stones thing").

Lake Geneva or Lake Léman (French: Lac Léman, Léman, Lac de Genève) is the largest freshwater lake in western Europe (582 km²). In addition it is the largest body of freshwater in continental Europe in term of volume (89 km³). 60% of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland (cantons of Vaud, Geneva, and Valais), and 40% under France (Haute-Savoie). The average level of water of 372 m is controlled by the Seujet Dam near Geneva.

Lake Geneva has a crescent shape, formed by a withdrawing glacier, narrows around Yvoire on the southern shore. It can thus be divided into the "Grand Lac" (Large Lake) to the east and the "Petit Lac" (Small Lake) to the west.

The lake lies on the course of the Rhône River. The river has its source at the Rhone Glacier near the Grimsel Pass to the east of the lake and flows down through the Canton of Valais, entering the lake between Villeneuve and Le Bouveret, before flowing slowly towards its egress at Geneva. Other tributaries are La Dranse, L'Aubonne, La Morges, La Venoge, and Veveyse.

Lake Geneva has an alpine character. The Chablais Alps border its southern shore, the western Bernese Alps lie over its eastern side. The high summits of Grand Combin and Mont Blanc are even visible from a few places.

The shore between Nyon and Lausanne is called La Côte because it is "flatter". Between Lausanne and Vevey it is called Lavaux and is famous for its hilly vineyards.

The lake's surface is the lowest point of the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

•Mary and Percy Shelley and Lord Byron holidayed by the lake and wrote ghost stories; one of which was the basis for the novel Frankenstein.

•Pop singer Phil Collins lives in a home overlooking the lake.

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