Courtesy of Classic Rock -

Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan has paid tribute to 'Funky' Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, who died last week after a skiing accident. Nobs was, of course, immortalised in Purple’s 1972 nugget Smoke On The Water. Indeed, without Nobs' timely intervention during the casino fire that inspired the song, Smoke… and accompanying album Machine Head may never have happened.

As Gillan recalled: "He became known as ‘Funky’ Claude after his bravery when the blaze took hold. He went down into the basement to lead out the frightened kids trapped there. '‘Funky' Claude was running in and out, pulling kids out the ground,’ as it says in the lyrics.

"The words are a biographical outline of the making of Machine Head. The project could never have been completed had it not been for his brilliant efforts."

So there you go: No 'Funky' Claude, no Machine Head. You could call him an unsung hero. Except that Gillan would undoubtedly take issue with such a description