1971 really sucked for Frank.
From the Wiki:
The lyrics of the song tell a true story: on 4 December 1971 Deep Purple had set up camp in Montreux, Switzerland to record an album using a mobile recording studio (rented from the Rolling Stones and known as the Rolling Stones Mobile Studioâ€”referred to as the “Rolling truck Stones thing” and “the mobile” in the song lyrics) at the entertainment complex that was part of the Montreux Casino (referred to as “the gambling house” in the song lyric). On the eve of the recording session a Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention concert was held in the casino’s theatre. In the middle of Don Preston’s synthesizer solo on “King Kong”, the place suddenly caught fire when somebody in the audience fired a flare gun into the rattan covered ceiling, as mentioned in the “some stupid with a flare gun” line. The resulting fire destroyed the entire casino complex, along with all the Mothers’ equipment. The “smoke on the water” that became the title of the song (credited to bass guitarist Roger Glover, who related how the title occurred to him when he suddenly woke from a dream a few days later) referred to the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva from the burning casino as the members of Deep Purple watched the fire from their hotel. The “Funky Claude” running in and out is referring to Claude Nobs, the director of the Montreux Jazz Festival who helped some of the audience escape the fire.
A week later on Dec. 10, Trevor Charles Howell charged the stage and shoved Frank into the orchestra pit. The attack left Frank’s voice lower and one leg shorter than the other for the rest of his life.
Of course, Dec. 4 of 1993 sucked for Frank even more than that. This was the last day he refused to die. We of course call it “bummernacht.”
My favorite version of the song was not recorded by Deep Purple. My favorite version of the song was recorded by these Asians.