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The Story Behind Smoke On Water

07/19/2010
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Instead of a Singled Out today we decided to feature Gibson.com's great new interview with Claude Nobs where we learn what inspired the Deep Purple classic "Smoke On Water". Here is that part of the feature: Claude Nobs founded the Montreux Jazz Festival, which is still held annually deep among the snow-capped mountains of his hometown. The festival has become internationally beloved and is now, in its 44th year, running through this Saturday along the shore of Lake Geneva.

A handsome, bespectacled 74-year-old with a wide smile, Nobs remains the driving force behind the festival and a faithful music fan, enthusing about both modern artists ("Joe Bonamassa is one of the most amazing guitar players I've heard in a long time") and classic rock acts like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and his old pals Deep Purple, who alluded to Nobs with a "Smoke On The Water" lyric: "Funky Claude was running in and out / Pulling kids out the ground."

Nobs vividly remembers the day the fire began at the Frank Zappa concert he had organized. Deep Purple had come to town to record their next album at the Montreux Casino. Staying in a hotel across the water from the venue, the band watched in horror as it caught fire and burned to the ground after a Zappa fan fired a flare gun into its opulent ceiling. Nobs not only rescued concertgoers from the blaze, but also helped Deep Purple regroup afterwards, offering them a new place to record and informing what would become their biggest hit. From the side stage of most every Montreux concert of note, he has changed the course of rock and roll. As he himself says, "I wanted to be a guitar player, but I found out very quickly I was not good enough for it. So I said, 'Maybe I can do a festival. I can do something more interesting for the crowd than try to be a guitar player.'" - There is a lot more here

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