In which we keep a check out the ways this immortal rock track has embedded itself into popular culture…  if you spot Smoke On The Water cropping up anywhere you wouldn’t normally expect it to, let us know! Check out the forthcoming biography about the song and album.

Smoke On The Water stories [5] Up the Tigers

For many years now Leicester Tigers football team have come out from their dressing room to the Machine Head version of Smoke On The Water. It usually stops just as Ian’s about to start singing.  Steve Kelly says it’s certainly quite surreal to hear 20,000 + fans clapping along to the riff “like we’ve suddenly been transported from Leicester to Osaka.”  Thanks Steve. The Leicester Tigers connection is due to Martin Johnson (ex-Tigers/England Captain/Coach) being a huge fan according to one of our readers below. Here’s a clip!


Smoke On The Water stories [4] An iron fist

Who were the first group (outside the immediate band members of course) to cover Smoke On The Water on record? Simon’s delving for the Machine Head Biography seemed to suggest that the first  to cut a version were Forcefield, sometime in 1986. Some older readers will remember Forcefield, who had quite a pedigree, with Cozy Powell on drums, Neil Murray on bass and Ray Fenwick on guitar. Ray put it together as a studio project for a Japanese label where it did quite well, although back home it came out on the cheapo President label.  The less of a household name Peter Prescott did vocals (and was replaced by Graham Bonnet for follow ups, though they never toured.)

Hooked On Rock Smoke On The Water

However I found an album in a charity store called Hooked On Rock, which came out in 1985, and comprised a bunch of South African session musicians called Iron Fist belt through twenty five rock classics per side, all linked together disco medley style! And they kick off with …. “Smoke On The Waaarder”. This also appeared on a 12″ maxi single in parts of Europe. So they just pip Forcefield to the honours, unless any of you can tell us otherwise!


My name is Stephen from Numulgi, Australia, and I have made a short video of ‘Smoke on the Water’ (played without an instrument). I’m no musician, but I hope you, and other fans of the great riff, enjoy it.
We certainly did Stephen!  It’s played on a CD jewel case, dragged across the edge of a desk.  What else?  Some of us will recall using a clear plastic ruler to do similar silly things back at school…

The trailer for the forthcoming Bill Murray movie ‘Rock the Kasbah’ shows the comic actor bawling out a drunken version of ‘Smoke on the Water’ . Many have suggested a physical resemblance between him and Ian Gillan; not sure I can see it myself. [TS]

Ever wondered what the individual parts of Smoke On The Water sounded like?  Someone has hacked the Guitar Hero computer game and posted Jon Lord’s take on YouTube.  It makes fascinating listening.  This was laid down at The Pavilion during their first take of the backing track before local Police brought the session to a close.  In an interview Jon said he doesn’t think he ever got to redo it, so this slightly experimental run-through became the final version.


5 Responses to “SMOKE ON THE WATER Stories”

  1. Paul Says:

    I had the Kung Fu Album! My god what a load of crap that was. And Dopes on the water I remember. The lyrics were changed to o worth Swiss bankers or something. Load of bollocks. What we are all missing now is an enormous amount of pink………

  2. Kevin Says:

    I am pretty sure there was a cover of this in 73 or 74 by Reggie Guitar or something similar. I used to have the album it was on which was called Kung Fu. Lost in a house move unfortunately. Paid the glorious sum of 50p for it from a jumble sale. It was full of covers the other main one I remember being ” I can see clearly now”. There was also a 1980 version called Dopes on the water which was some god awful electro pop thingy that made me want to vomit.
    I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some kind Funky Junction type album released mid 1972 that we still haven’t discovered.

  3. biggirltravels Says:

    The Leicester Tigers connection is due to Martin Johnson (ex-Tigers/England Captain/Coach) being a huge fan. I asked the club on Twitter a few years ago.

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