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Where was the fire?

The smoke on the water and the fire in the sky that inspired the words to Smoke On The Water is now the stuff of legends. However, Roger Glover still remembers all the details of what went on at this unfortunate Frank Zappa show:

There have been some comments about what it was like when the fire started. From my point of view in the middle of the crowd, there was no sense of panic whatsoever. I didn't see any flare gun, only some sparks coming from the ceiling around a corner of the room. IG says he saw it but probably because he was sitting in a different place to me. The music coming to an end was the sudden, startling and disappointing thing. Everyone made their way out of the building in a fairly orderly fashion, albeit grumbling at the inconvenience. Some got lost in the basement, we heard afterwards, but put in the right direction by Claude.

During the exodus I was parted from my fellow band members and when I arrived at one of two cars we had parked in the alley outside, there was no sign of them. Thinking that they were still inside, I went back in to see. I remember walking around the empty place, pausing in front of the deserted bandstand and checking out Zappa's band's equipment. There was no one there however and so I went back out. At no time during all this did I sense anything of a fire; it just seemed as if a false alarm had gone off and everyone had had to leave the building.

Back outside again, I found the rest of the band waiting for me (I had the key) and some of them, including Paicey, were chatting with Aynsley Dunbar, Frank's drummer, and an old friend (he used to be married to Wendy. She was at the time, or at least recently had been, Paicey's girlfriend - this being years before she moved to LA and eventually hooked up with Ronnie James Dio). It was then that we had to get out of the way sharpish as the fire engines started arriving.

That was when things started happening fast. The fire broke out and spread very quickly. It must have been raging in the ductwork and crawlspaces in the ceiling all this time, out of sight. That is why there was a sense of calm about the proceedings. We drove back to our hotel, a little way along the coast, and watched from the bar in disbelief as the place burned away and into my dreams. The photograph of Claude on MH was taken in that bar and you can see the shock on his face.

BTW, the hotel was the Hotel L'Europe, not, as IG vehemently insists, the Eden Au Lac, which is in fact in the next town, Lausanne. I've pointed this out to him before but he wont have it; he's the singer! :-^)

Good luck,

Roger Glover


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