DEEP PURPLE Makes History By Performing 'Smoke On The Water' On Lake Geneva Shore At MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL

July 9, 2024

We all know the riff. DEEP PURPLE's "Smoke On The Water" is no doubt one of the most iconic tracks in rock history, inspired by the fire at Montreux Jazz Festival's Casino venue during a Frank Zappa concert on December 4, 1971. That day, DEEP PURPLE were in Montreux to record their latest album, which would go on to be 1972's "Machine Head", using THE ROLLING STONES' mobile recording studio to start on the record. However, the band were forced out of their hotel rooms by the smoke, and the apocalyptic scenes they saw inspired the track.

Last night at the 58th edition of Montreux Jazz Festival, the band returned for their 10th show in Montreux, but this time, they performed on the festival's brand-new Lake Stage — constructed in a breathtaking setting on the surface of Lake Geneva.

DEEP PURPLE opened with the scintillating track "Highway Star", with its long, classically inspired guitar and organ solos. The set moved to explore other classics including "Space Truckin'", "Anya" and "Into The Fire", plus others from their forthcoming album, "=1".

As the iconic riff of "Smoke On The Water" came in, the curtain at the back of the stage was lifted, fittingly revealing a glistening Lake Geneva cloaked in smoke. Midway through, frontman Ian Gillan instructed the crowd to take over singing duties on the hook, to which the 5,000-capacity crowd eagerly obliged, getting louder and louder with each rendition until the jolt of guitars and drums came crashing in.

Earlier in the festival, the band hosted an exclusive question-and-answer panel where they discussed their memories of the 1971 fire and shared the unheard stories behind their most famous track.

Roger Glover, DEEP PURPLE bassist, speaking about the Casino fire: "It burned all afternoon, all evening, all through the night. We went and looked at it the next morning and there it was, gone. It was a frightening thing. The following morning, I was in my room alone and I woke up with those words on my lips, and I said them out to an empty room. And then I kind of really woke up and I said, 'What did I just say? Smoke on the water?' No idea what it meant. I mentioned it to Ian [Gillan] and he said, 'Yeah, sounds like a drug song, we better not do that.'"

On recording the "Smoke On The Water" riff in Montreux: "Our roadies were keeping the doors shut because the police were trying to get in to stop us because we were keeping the entire town of Montreux awake."

On receiving praise from Luciano Pavarotti: "We worked with Luciano Pavarotti a couple of times, and once he said, 'I've heard you sing 'Smoke On The Water' six times, and I'm very jealous, because every time it's different. If I changed one detail of the original interpretations of any of my famous arias they'd crucify me."

Montreux Jazz Festival continues until July 20, with this year's eclectic lineup spanning across all genres and eras of music — including THE NATIONAL, RAYE, MASSIVE ATTACK, TEMS, DURAN DURAN, Janelle Monáe, Sting, KRAFTWERK, Lenny Kravitz and many more.

Posted by Mark Miller on Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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