Beat The Boots II: 5. Swiss Cheese Fire!
Dec 4, 1971
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Recorded at Casino, Montreaux, Switzerland - December 4, 1971
FZ: guitar, vocals
Mark Volman: vocals
Howard Kaylan: vocals
Jim Pons: bass, vocals
Don Preston: keyboards
Ian Underwood: keyboards
Aynsley Dunbar: drums
"The 1971 European winter tour gets the award for being the most disasterous. On December 4, we were working at the Casino de Montreux in Geneva, Switzerland, right on the edge of the lake—just in front of Igor Stravinsky Street—a venue noted for its jazz festivals. In the middle of Don Preston's synthesizer solo on "King Kong," the place suddenly caught fire. Somebody in the audience had a bottle rocket or a Roman candle and had fired it into the ceiling, at which point the rattan covering started to burn (other versions of the story claim the blaze was the result of faulty wiring). There were between twenty-five hundred and three thousand kids packed into the room—well over capacity.
Since more kids were outside, trying to get in, the organizers had cleverly chained the doors shut. When the fire began, the audience was left with two ways out: through the front door, which was pretty small, or through a plate-glass window off to the side of the stage. I made an announcement—something like: "Please be calm. We have to leave here. There is a fire and why don't we get out?"
You'd be surprised how well people who speak only French can understand you when its a matter of life and death. They began filing out through the front door. As the room was filling with smoke, one of our roadies took an equipment case and smashed the big window. The crew then began helping people to escape through it into some kind of garden place below. The band escaped through an underground tunnel that led from behind the stage through the parking garage. A few minutes later the heating system in the building exploded, and some people were blown through the window. Fortunately, nobody was killed and there were only a few minor injuries—however, the entire building, about thirteen million dollars' worth, burned to the ground, and we lost all our equipment."
—FZ, from The Real Frank Zappa Book
Setlist at Beat The Boots II: 5. Swiss Cheese Fire!, Montreux, SWI on Dec 4, 1971
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