More weird and wonderful instances of Smoke On The Water in popular culture! Items 1 – 30 are on Page One.

Smoke On The Water Stories [36] Diggies!

As McVitie digestive biscuits are known round here. Back in 1983 the British biscuit company issued a promotional tape of rock tracks, amongst which was Smoke On The Water!  The gimmick must have worked as they did a second volume the following year. To get the tape you needed to send in X number of tokens off the wrappers.


Smoke On The Water Stories [36] The real Dodge Charger

In 2007 Dodge launched a new Charger model in America, and the Tv commercial made clever use of Smoke On The Water. The test engineer is listening to the different engine notes, and realises that put together they make up the famous riff, and goes for it!

Some car enthusiast has managed to archive the commercial:

Smoke On The Water Stories [35] The toy Dodge Charger

This one is a bit strange. Back in 2005 when I was doing bits of work for DP(O), manager Tony Edwards came on to me for some advice. He has been approached by an American toy manufacturer – well toy company really, they’re all produced in China – who was launching a series of 1.43 scale diecast cars based on American muscle machines.  But with a twist, if you pushed the car down it played a 60 second blast from a rock hit.  What they wanted to do was add Smoke On The Water to this particular toy in the series.  Being a bit of a toy collector as a kid (and I’ve still got my Matchbox toys), I was very up for this and urged him to go for it.  But it was clear he did not really “get” the product and in the end refused permission.  Some other license holders were less shy and a few cars, one playing Radar Love, another doing Bohemian Rhapsody, did reach the stores. Frustratingly I cannot find much about the series on the web. They may have been very short lived as the firm went bust in 2006.

The firm did submit some pack art to DPO which may not have been seen before and a photo of the prototype toy. They may have issued this with a different track instead.

Asphalt audio Rockin_Charger.jpg

Smoke On The Water Stories [34] Coincidence

Dec 4th 1971. The Montreux Casino burnt to the ground and inspired the greatest band to write their greatest song, Smoke On The Water, but there are some less happy events which occurred on this day in later years (and sorry I have lost the name of whoever sent this in) :

Dec 4th 1975. Deep Purple crew member Patsy Collins died after falling down a lift shaft in Jakarta.

Dec 4th 1976. Tommy Bolin died in Miami aged just 25.

Dec 4th 1993. Frank Zappa dies aged 53.

Smoke On The Water Stories [33] Lounge jazzer

Gillan on French TV.jpg

In 2012 Deeep Purple turned up on French TV’s CultureBox.  After a dual language interview with Ian Gillan, the band did a great four minute lounge jazz version of Smoke On The Water.  This was archived on their site for ages but I cannot find a current link (let me know if you spot it).  The tensest moment came when the French hosts played Ian Gillan a clip of the Joe Lynn Turner line-up to show him how it ought to go! Here’s a screen grab I did at the time. Thanks to Tim Summers

Smoke On The Water Stories [33] Smoke on the water, water on the brain

Warren Zevon My Rides Here.jpgGareth Toms was buzzing through a Warren Zevon album when he spotted a reference to Smoke On The Water. Music Group David Szpajer had everything the man ever did and sorted me out a loan of the CD in question. The album is My Ride’s Here, released in 2002, the song is Basket Case. Reading the lyrics, you could easily have imagined The Cramps taking great delight in covering this one.

Digging a little deeper, the song was actually inspired by American author Carl Hiaasen, from a novel of the same name. A satire on the newspaper industry, it revolved around a band and a singer who died young. Carl came up with the first two lines of a fictitious single, and his publishers suggested he complete them. He knew Warren (having helped on lyrics on an earlier album) and (“because I have no shame”) asked Warren to help out. After a few weeks Warren had the lyrics and a demo cut, and put it on the album. There was then a debate as to where the royalties would go. “His fictitious estate might get a fictitious check, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The music business is cruel to the dead and living alike,” reckoned Carl.

Warren did the guitar but managed to avoid slipping the riff in, and yes it is a bit of a filler – the sort of track you’d have put on a b-side in the olden days. And don’t you just get annoyed by people who go to the trouble of laying down a full hammond track and then mix it out of earshot? Warren was already ill by the time he was cutting the album and died a year later. Read the story of his last TV show on Wikipedia if you can without shedding a tear.

Dracula’s daughter, Calamity Jane, Smoke on the water, water on the brain. She’s pretty as a picture – and totally crazed, My baby is a basket case.

Smoke On The Water Stories [32] Shaddix

Santana’s covers album Rock Covers Rock saw the guitarist taking on classic tracks from the likes of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Rolling Stones and Hendrix, with loads of special guests and included a version of Smoke On The Water featuring Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach. It was released in 2010 by Sony.

“What I brought to the table is my heart, knowing that I complement, I don’t compete,” Santana said of the recording sessions. “I have supreme certainty and confidence that they’re going to say, ‘Hey man, I love what you did with my song.” Thanks to Tom Dixon. It’s out there if you want to have a listen before buying the CD, pretty much what you’d expect really!

Smoke On The Water Stories [31] Two And A Half Men

Have you ever seen the episode of Two And A Half Men where the chubby kid is depressed and plays Smoke On The Water through the whole episode on his guitar and finishes with a duet with Charlie Sheen on the piano? It fair tickled me and made me wonder if Ritchie could step in to the role of the Charlie character. Okay, they would have to medievalise it – Ye Two Merry Men and Ye Chubby Urchin – and set it in a small forest, but I reckon the ratings in the US would soar if RB could knock out Smoke every episode. The cleaning lady would make a mean Friar Tuck.  Mike Burnett. 

Seen it?  I’ve never ever heard of it Mike!

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