This interesting image turned up recently while we were working on the Deep Purple book all about their seminal Machine Head album. Anyone familiar with the lyrics “We all came down to Montreux” should realise that this is a contemporary shot of the famous Montreux Casino, which burnt down in December 1971 causing chaos in the town, near disaster for Frank Zappa and his audience, but did inspire one of the most famous rock songs of all time, Smoke On The Water.
Frustratingly for us the photo just misses off the actual venue itself, that large grey block on the far right of the scene. But it does have a lot of atmosphere, although I’m struggling to know where it was taken from, as it’s somewhere in the lake! Nothing now remains of the Casino complex, which was later redeveloped. More details of the Deep Purple book Fire In The Sky can be found on the site, and the text is now in the proof-reading stage.
Chatting last week – in broken French and English – with the owner of a small Italian restaurant in the Swiss town of Montreux, we explained that it was Deep Purple which had brought us there. He suddenly and unexpectedly went all misty eyed, and quietly proclaimed that Montreux was the band’s spiritual home. He may well have a point.
Work on our upcoming book about Machine Head – Fire In The Sky – is well advanced, but there remained a number of difficult to check facts surrounding the album recordings. So when Deep Purple were booked to headline the closing day of the 2016 Montreux Jazz festival, we decided to draw a number of threads together and plan a visit; to see the concert, check out all the sites associated with the album and arrange a visit to the Grand Hotel where the LP was cut.
Bassist Roger Glover was keen to see it again, and a number of people who were there at the time were invited, plus a few fans and important local worthies, and some of the residents of the building (now apartments) who had little idea of how famous the building was before the gathering.
Researcher Stephen Clare and myself met any number of interesting people and were able to nail a number of questions as well as uncover new stories and anecdotes. The trip was also to enable us to properly photograph the site, and the image above shows the exact corridor which Deep Purple sealed off and turned into their ‘studio’.
There have been a few changes; the end of the corridor is now walled off and become part of someone’s apartment, but they kindly let us in for a look as well.
One interesting outcome of all this is a plan to add a heritage plaque to the building, which has until now been hard for people to find and visit.
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The other photos show Stephen Clare (below right) discussing points with Roger Glover backstage after the show, and Simon (above right) alongside Roger Glover in the former foyer of The Grand Hotel where one of the crew there in 1971 recalls Ritchie disappearing into to record some of his solos.
The second of our Deep Purple titles has been scheduled, and takes a detailed look at one of the most influential and best – selling rock albums of all time, Machine Head. DEEP PURPLE – FIRE IN THE SKY follows a similar format to our previous book on the group, and includes the story of SMOKE ON THE WATER, often voted the most famous rock riff of all time. You can read more about the book and see the cover on the site, and more details will follow. Publication is scheduled for early 2015. Our previous book on the band’s formation in 1969 has been remarkably well reviewed across the world, and you can read some of those reviews on the site. This follow-up aims to reach the same high standard.