The Other McCain

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Ancient Rock’n’Roll Factoid Of The Day

Posted on | February 1, 2013 | 8 Comments

by Smitty

Did not know this:

The name of Claude Nobs will be forever enshrined in Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, the song with perhaps the most famous riff in rock history. Nobs was a co-founder of the Montreaux Jazz Festival, which by the early 1970s had grown to embrace rock artists such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. In 1971, the Montreaux casino caught fire during a performance by Frank Zappa after an audience member fired a flare gun at the ceiling. Nobs dragged a number of concert goers to safety earning himself the title Funky Claude in Deep Purple’s song.

Related lyric:

They burned down the gambling house,
It died with an awful sound.
(Uh) Funky Claude was running in and out,
Pulling kids out the ground.
When it all was over,
We had to find another place.
But Swiss time was running out,
It seemed that we would lose the race.
Smoke on the water and fire in the sky.
Smoke on the water…

Rest in peace, Funky Claude.

via Dan Collins


8 Responses to “Ancient Rock’n’Roll Factoid Of The Day”

  1. Bob Belvedere
    February 1st, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

    Damn…you two beat me to it!

  2. Adjoran
    February 1st, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

    Poor second factoid of the day.

    The real winner is that on this day in 1949, RCA Victor unveiled the 45 rpm record player, setting the stage for teenage buyers since the vinyl used was less breakable than the fragile 78s.

  3. t-dahlgren
    February 1st, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

    A bit more SOTW trivia.

    The song was put together very late in the recording session, when they realized they needed another track to fill up the album. The famous riff had been recorded early on during the session, but at the time there was no plans to do anything with it. Only later did they resurrect it, writing the lyrics, creating a full arrangement, and then lastly adding the vocals.

  4. Jim
    February 2nd, 2013 @ 1:39 am

    I recall hearing this same story many years ago. There is a photo of Claude Nobs on the Machine Head album (the vinyl version). Saw bits of Montreux Jazz Fest on TV recently. DP was playing and Claude came out and was introduced to the audience.

  5. Finrod Felagund
    February 2nd, 2013 @ 2:56 am

    “Real songs are about deals with the devil, far off lands, and where you can find smoke in relation to water” — Otto, from The Simpsons

  6. Erik Larson
    February 2nd, 2013 @ 9:38 am

    All those years I thought he was singing about “a Monkey Paw” or a “a Monkey Claw”–I had know idea what that meant. This makes vastly more sense.

  7. Man who inspired greatest rock riff of all time passes away « The Daley Gator
    February 2nd, 2013 @ 10:02 am

    […] Smitty comes some interesting trivia about a man I bet you never heard of Claude nobs Did not know this: The name of Claude Nobs will be forever enshrined in Deep Purple’s Smoke on […]

  8. Bob Belvedere
    February 2nd, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    You were not alone. I remember people thinking it was some strange Voodoo/Satanic drug reference back in the 70’s.

    This is why CREEM Magazine was a must-read back then, so you got the true stories behind the music [to coin a phrase].

    I’m off now to have a Boy Howdy…