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Smoke on the Water
YouTube
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42 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Concert Fire Inspires ‘Smoke on the Water’

On Dec. 4, 1971, the small town of Montreux, Switzerland, became a place forever linked to rock history. A fire at the Montreux Casino during a concert by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention inspired Deep Purple's classic 'Smoke on the Water.'

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Elvis Presley '68 Comeback Special
Legacy Recordings
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45 Years Ago: Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special Airs

We've seen everything from Elvis Presley Christmas ornaments to commemorative Barbie dolls in the 36 years since the icon's death. But in late 1968, Presley's career was in decline after several years of corny movies and a slow drift from his rock 'n' roll roots.

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Oli Scarff, Getty Images
Oli Scarff, Getty Images
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37 Years Ago: Pink Floyd’s Giant Inflatable Pig Breaks Free

Whether it was an epic publicity stunt or a genuine mishap remains a topic of debate in some circles. Either way, the cover shoot for 1977's 'Animals' remains one of Pink Floyd's signature moments.

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Who Cincinnati 1979
Cincinnati Enquirer
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34 Years Ago: 11 Fans Die at The Who’s Cincinnati Concert

Eleven fans died 34 years ago today during a stampede to the front of Riverfront Coliseum for a Who concert. Eight others were seriously injured in the crush, which happened as the crowd raced in before a December 3, 1979 show.

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Ruben header
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45 Years Ago: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention Release ‘Cruising With Ruben & the Jets’

On Dec. 2, 1968, a mysterious group of pompadoured cartoon faces turned back the clock of music history to highlight the golden era of doo-wop with their self-referencing album ‘Cruising With Ruben & the Jets.’

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Keystone / Getty Images
Keystone / Getty Images
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46 Years Ago: Traffic’s ‘Mr. Fantasy’ Released

Traffic are rightly remembered today as titans of jazz-rock and soul -- but on their 1967 debut album, 'Mr. Fantasy,' released 46 years ago this month, Steve Winwood and company were busy riding the psychedelic coattails of 'Sgt. Pepper.'

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Pete Townshend
Hutton Archive, Getty Images
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40 Years Ago: The Who Arrested in Montreal

Following an incendiary performance at The Forum in Montreal on Dec. 2, 1973, the Who attended an after-show party put on by executives from RCA. Would you be surprised if we told you that legal trouble and property damage ensued?

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aerosmith midnight special
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36 Years Ago – Aerosmith Release ‘Draw the Line’

Aerosmith were coming off the peak of their success when they went into the studio for 'Draw the Line.' In the wake of back-to-back classics 'Toys in the Attic' and 'Rocks,' the group were positioned to deliver an album that would have cemented their legacy alongside '70s stalwarts like Led Zeppelin. Instead, they turned in an oddly dispirited album that heralded a dramatic reversal of fortunes in their career.

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Evening Standard/Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive, Getty Images
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41 Years Ago: The BBC Bans ‘Hi Hi Hi’ by Paul McCartney and Wings

While controversy seemed to follow John Lennon on a daily basis in the early-70s, it was not a foreign concept to his former Beatles band mate Paul McCartney either. In early 1972, McCartney and his band Wings, released the defiantly political single, 'Give Ireland Back To The Irish.' Dipping into controversial waters out of character for McCartney, and though the single was strong and hard-rocking, the BBC thought it was too much, and promptly banned it.

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bloody header
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40 Years Ago: Black Sabbath’s ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ Released

On Dec. 1, 1973, Black Sabbath unleashed their fifth (and final) universally adored masterpiece, ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.’ Universally adored by loyal fans, that is, since know-it-all rock critics universally hated it as a matter of course - just as they had every Sabbath product before it.

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Guns N Roses Lies
Getty Images
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25 Years Ago: Guns N’ Roses Release ‘G N’ R Lies’

Get ready to feel really, really old because it's hard to believe how much time has elapsed since Guns n’ Roses unleashed their second piece of vinyl product, ‘GN’R Lies’ on Nov. 30, 1988. It was released some fifteen months after their eventual record-setting debut album, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ but a mere 90 days (give or take) after the same LP finally topped the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

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Eddie Van Halen Michael Jackson
Hulton Archive / Larry Morano, Getty Images
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31 Years Ago: Eddie Van Halen Joins Michael Jackson on ‘Beat It’

Eddie Van Halen didn't even get a mention on Michael Jackson's mega-smash album 'Thriller,' which celebrates it's 31 year anniversary today (Nov. 30), despite having a heavy hand in the success of the third radio single. The guitarist says he did the solo on 'Beat It' for free -- and even wound up re-arranging the song while Jackson was out of the room.

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