A Sicilian born, American who lived near my friends in Los Angles on Laurel Canyon by the name of Frank Zappa has to be thanked for the good fortune that came Deep Purple’s way in Montreux, Swizerland. Because of Zappa they did not loose all their equipment and where able to finish the album Machine Head. Hear it directly from Singer Ian Gillan in the video below.
Coming off a huge 15 month tour to support their successful In Rock, the band holed up in ‘Le Pavillon’, an old hotel in Montreux, Switzerland. Using the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit, Deep Purple recorded one of the hardest rocking albums of all time– Machine Head. Apparently the locals were not aware or appreciative that Rock history was in the making. In the middle of recording ‘Smoke on the Water’ the Swiss police showed up– pounding on the door to shut them down for keeping up the entire town of Montreux. Deep Purple’s roadees were holding the doors shut so that the band could get the track down on tape before getting thrown out. Deep Purple had to find new digs to record in, and finally came across a grand old Victorian hotel on the edge of town that was shutdown for the season– it was now the depths of winter. They found a tiny, quirky little space off of the main lobby where they could setup, and that was where Machine Head would be recorded– in just 3 weeks. Quick, dirty, and epic.
Deep Purple credits none other than Led Zeppelin for finally giving the band their focus. The boys in Deep Purple had experimented a lot with their sound in their early years– adding elements of psychedelia, and funk to their sound. With Led Zeppelin (and Black Sabbath) blazing the way by laying down the most epic, indestructible and powerful ‘Riff Rock’ tracks of all time– they finally knew exactly how they wanted to sound. The Mk II lineup was unstoppable– Ian Gillan (easily one of Rock and Roll’s best vocalists), guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (’nuff said), Roger Glover on bass, Ian Paice on drums, and arguably one of the most important elements to the “Deep Purple” sound that truly separated them from the pack– the eloquent and driving keyboard playing of Jon Lord.
“We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window. It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.”
There is a lot of musical history in this town, this is just scratching the surface, more reports coming and you will see it all in the film documentary David Bowie Is Around The World.