On 3rd December 1971, Frank Zappa and the Mothers were playing a concert in the casino’s ballroom when one of the audience fired a flare gun at the ceiling. The flare ignited the rattan covering of the ceiling and the fire soon spread, destroying the entire casino complex. Claude Nobs rescued several young people who had been sheltering in the casino. Fortunately, the fire caused only a few injuries and no fatalities.
The incident inspired Deep Purple to write “Smoke on the Water”. They were in Montreux at the time, intending to record their new album in the casino using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio as the tourist season ended. The band eventually managed to record their album, Machine Head, which included “Smoke on the Water” at the Montreux Grand Hotel. The rebuilt Montreux Casino reopened in 1975 with its place in rock history assured.