‘Smoke on the Water’: Deep Purple recall police incident

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The Swiss police intervened in a dispute with Deep Purple while they were recording their now-iconic hit song “Smoke on the Water,” according to several band members, both past and present.

As the riff for the Deep Purple song “Smoke On The Water” was created, police were slamming the doors down.

The Mothers of Invention concert venue at Switzerland’s Montreux Casino burned down in 1971 after a fan set the building on fire with a flare pistol. The famed rock band was jamming in a mobile unit at the time. And because they were making a “heck of a ruckus,” the police arrived and broke down the doors.

Ian Paice, the original member, and drummer revealed while talking with Classic Rock Magazine, they endured a “pretty hostile” incident with local police in 1971. He said, “There was no sound-proofing and we were recording at night. A hell of a racket!”

Ritchie Blackmore added, “We did ‘Smoke On The Water’ there, and the riff I made up in the spur of the moment. I just threw it together with lan Paice.”

Roger Glover, the bassist also talked about the incident. He said, “We went outside to the mobile unit and were listening back to one of the takes, and there was some hammering on the door. It was the local police, and they were trying to stop the whole thing because it was so loud. We knew that they were coming to close everything down. We said to Martin Birch, our engineer: ‘Let’s see if we have a take.’ So they were outside hammering and taking out their guns… It was getting pretty hostile.”

The interviewees then disclosed that they had to lock their doors in order to deter the police until they were able to capture a workable take and wrap up the evening’s events. Although the “difficult” environment could have easily prevented the signature riff from being heard, the song ‘Smoke On The Water’ ended up becoming the band’s 1972 album ‘Machine Head’s biggest hit.

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