Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you. I understand there is a sign in the audience that once again says: "What's the secret word for tonight?"The secret word for tonight is . . . FIRE !
FRANK ZAPPA : FIRE! (Live 1971)
An incendiary concert !
From: FZ (The Real Frank Zappa Book)
The 1971 European winter tour gets the award for being hte most disasterous. On December 4, we were working at the Casino de Montreux inGeneva, Switzerland, right on the edge of the lake- just in front of IgorStravinsky Street- a venue noted for its jazz festivals.In the middle of Don Preson's synthesizer solo on "King Kong," the place suddenly caught fire. Somebody in the audience had a bottle rocketor a Roman candle and had fired it into the ceiling, at which point the rattan covering started to burn (other versions of the story claim the blaze was the result of faulty wiring). There were between twenty-five hundred and three thousand kids packed into the room- well over capacity.Since more kids were outside, trying to get in, the organizers had cleverly chained the doors shut. When the fire began, the audience was left with two ways out: through the front door, which was pretty small, or through a plate-glass window off to the side of the stage.I made an announcement- something like: "Please be calm. We have to leave here. There is a fire and why don't we get out?".You'd be surprised how well people who speak only French can understand you when its a matter of life and death.They began filing out through the front door.As the room was filling with smoke, one of our roadies took anequipment case and smashed the big window.The crew then began helping people to escape through it into some kind of garden place below.The band escaped through an underground tunnel that led from behind the stage through the parking garage.A few minutes later the heating system in the building exploded, and some people were blown through the window.Fortunately, nobody was killed and there were only a few minor injuries- however, the entire building,about thirteen million dollars' worth, burned to the ground, and we lost all our equipment.
In the April, 1999 issue of Guitar magazine there is an interview with formerDeep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.In the article Ritchie mentions Zappa two separate times.In the first instance while discussing the abuse Blackmore had to handle from the record company he says:"As Frank Zappa would say,"I smell a rat"" The next quote follows: (Q): Can you elaborate on the story told in "Smoke on the Water"? (A). We were sitting there watching Frank Zappa play and suddenly someone had one of those flare guns and decided to let it off. It set the roof on fire.Frank turned around and said,"Now everybody calm down."He then threw down his guitar and jumped out the window.It was quite funny.He wanted to be the first one out.We then had about 15 minutes before the place was gutted, which was frightening.
Touched by the incident and the smoke that hung over the lake for days afterward, the band wrote its biggest hit, "Smoke on the Water".
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