Saturday, January 26, 2013


Everyone reading this post knew Claude.

Claude Nobs, who founded the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967 and built it into an international phenomenon far more famous than the small Swiss resort town where it was held — and far more musically inclusive than the term “jazz festival” would suggest — died last week.

Claude of course, was known by rock fans as "Funky Claude" who was "running in and out" in the second verse of Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water," a song that contains arguably the most familiar guitar riff in rock.

The song’s lyric was based on an incident in December 1971, when the Montreux Casino caught fire during a performance by Frank Zappa. (The members of Deep Purple were in Montreux at the time to record and perform, and witnessed the fire from their hotel.) Mr. Nobs helped members of the audience evacuate the casino, and his actions were acknowledged in the lyric.

This version of the song is live from Montreaux in 2006.


  1. Hey, stranger! How have you been? Is the new year treating you well so far. Hope so. Thanks for sharing this. I knew some of this but not all. Thanks for filling in some of the blanks. You reminded me that I was given a copy of Machine Head in my teens. I already had a copy at the time. That second copy is still wrapped up and siting on my shelf with all the other records of my youth.
    Take care.


  2. Hokey-SMOKE! I had no idea who "Funky Claude" was. What a great piece of music trivia that is.

    And what a great Jazz festival "Funky Claude" was responsible for. With regard to fame and talent, it was right up there with the Newport Jazz Festival.

    I used to love the 'Machine Head' album. I'd say it was Deep Purple's 'Dark Side Of The Moon'.

    I really dug the electric organ workout on 'Lazy', and if 'Smoke...' doesn't contain the most recognizable guitar riff in Rock, I don't know what song does.

    I remember back in the day how it was rumored that 'Smoke On The Water' was a reference to smoking weed in a bong. Ha-Ha! I never did buy into THAT one.

    Anyway, cool post, Doctor Disc.

    Hey, I replied to your comment on my blog and I'm looking forward to receiving the requested Email from ya. Has it been sent yet? Where is it? What's the hold-up, Bub?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  3. Jimmy-

    I didn't know who Claude was until I read the obituary in Billboard.


    I'd heard the same rumor but knew that was bogus-didn't know a lot of details about the fire, and did a couple searches before posting this to fill in the blanks.

    The Montreaux festival is one heckuva achievement.

    And is one heckuva record.

    "Lazy" doesn't get a lot of credit-"Highway Star" and "Smoke" get all the credit, but you're right-this was by far their classic. I know you reference "Stormbringer" on your blog, but that was such a different lineup, it was almost another band.

  4. I love learning new bits of music trivia! I had no idea who this man was but I listened to the clip you shared and I have to say I am glad I did! Thank you for stopping by my blog :)