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Song Stories

“Smoke on the Water”

Deep Purple | 1973

On the evening of December 4, 1971, Deep Purple were watching a Frank Zappa concert at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland, when someone shot a flare gun and set fire to the ceiling of the venue -- completely destroying it. This served as the inspiration behind their hit "Smoke on the Water." "That was a riff I made up on the spur of the moment, in Switzerland," explained Ritchie Blackmore. "It was a case of keeping it incredibly simple. I remember Pete Townsend saying to me, 'You've got to keep things simple and take the audience with you.'" Purple were planning on recording their next album, Machine Head, at the Casino but had to move the sessions to the nearby Grand Hotel.

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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