Rare Photo of the Casino Burning Courtesy of Montreux Music Juxtaposed With a Shot of 1,721 Guitarists All Playing “Smoke on the Water” In Unison
On This Date, December 3rd in 1971: During a concert by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention at a casino in Montreux, Switzerland, a fire started after an audience member shot a flare gun at the ceiling. The building burned down but there were no fatalities. Deep Purple were in Montreux at the time to record their album Machine Head and watched the fire burn from their hotel window.
At their recording sessions, the band immortalized the incident in their song “Smoke on the Water,” which was released as a single the following year and became a huge hit. Zappa, who is mentioned in the lyrics, lost all his equipment in the fire.