Watch Deep Purple Play “Smoke on the Water” at the Site of the Fire That Inspired the Song

Deep Purple’s signature song “Smoke on the Water” tells the true story of an incident that occurred in December 1971 in Montreux, Switzerland, when the band was in the city to record what would become their classic 1972 album Machine Head. Deep Purple had intended to do the recording at Montreux Casino, but while they were in the city, a fire broke out at the venue during a concert by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and it burned to the ground.

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Soon after, Deep Purple wrote “Smoke on the Water,” built around an iconic guitar riff created by the group’s founding guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore.

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On Sunday, July 8, Deep Purple returned to Montreux to perform at the 2024 Montreux Jazz Festival. Although the band had played in the city nine times before, the latest concert there was particularly special, as the show marked Deep Purple’s first performance on the festival’s new Lake Stage. The stage is literally built on the surface of Lake Geneva.

The setting brought a special resonance to the group’s performance of “Smoke on the Water,” which begins with the lines, “We all came out to Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline.” As the band played, smoke machines on the lake shore created a blanket of smoke that wafted across the stage.

[RELATED: Deep Purple Debuts “Lazy Sod,” Rocking Third Advance Track from Band’s =1 Album]

According to Setlist.fm, Deep Purple’s set also featured performances of such other classics as “Highway Star,” “Space Truckin’,” and “Hush.” The band also played four tunes from its forthcoming studio album, =1, which will be released on July 19.

Deep Purple Members Also Took Part in a Q&A at the Festival

The day before the concert, longtime Deep Purple members Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, and Ian Paice took part in a workshop event at the festival during which they discussed the infamous 1971 fire and the creation of “Smoke on the Water.”

As reported by Blabbermouth.net, Glover shared his recollections of witnessing the fire during the Q&A event.

“It burned all afternoon, all evening, all through the night,” the bassist recalled. “We went and looked at [the casino] the next morning and there it was, gone. It was a frightening thing.”

Glover then shared how the song’s title came to him.

“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,” he said. “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.”

“Smoke on the Water” became the classic 1970s Deep Purple lineup’s biggest hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.

Deep Purple’s Upcoming Tour Plans

Deep Purple currently is in the middle of a European headlining trek that’s scheduled through an August 8 concert in Skandeborg, Denmark. The band’s next show is scheduled for July 10 in Rome.

After the European outing, Deep Purple will launch a North American tour in support of =1 and celebrating the 50th anniversary of their classic song “Smoke on the Water.” The trek, which also features Yes, kicks off August 14 in Hollywood, Florida, and is plotted out through a September 8 show in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

After the North American tour, the group will play three shows in South America in September. Deep Purple will then head back to Europe, including their native U.K., for more shows in October and November.

Tickets to Deep Purple’s 2024 concerts are available now via various outlets, including StubHub.

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