"Apache" is a much-recorded instrumental written by Jerry Lordan. The original version was by the British group The Shadows, recorded in June 1960 and released the following month. It topped the UK Singles Chart for five weeks.[1]

In North America, the tune is identified with Jørgen Ingmann, a jazz guitarist from Denmark. In 1961, his cover version, credited to "Jørgen Ingmann and His Guitar", made No.2 on theBillboard Hot 100 and No.9 on the US R&B chart.[2] The track reached No.1 on Canada's CHUM Chart.

A 1973 version by the Incredible Bongo Band has been called "hip-hop’s national anthem".[3] Although this version was not a hit on release, the long percussion break in the middle has been sampled countless times on hip-hop, rap and dance tracks since the 1980s.

In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Apache" at No.96 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.


 [hide*1 Composition and original recording

Composition and original recording[edit]Edit

English songwriter and composer Jerry Lordan came up with the tune. The title "Apache" reflects the source of Lordan's inspiration: the 1954 American western film Apache.

The original recording was by British guitarist Bert Weedon in early 1960. It remained unreleased for several months.[4] In mid-1960 the Shadows were on tour with Lordan as a supporting act. The band discovered "Apache" when Lordan played it on a ukelele. Lordan figured the tune would fit the Shadows; the band agreed.

Shadows version[edit]Edit

The recording was done at the EMI Abbey Road Studio in London. Singer-guitarist Joe Brown had bought an Italian-built guitar echo chamber that he didn't like and gave it to Hank Marvin who developed a distinctive sound using it and the tremolo arm of his Fender StratocasterBruce Welch borrowed an acoustic Gibson J200 guitar from Cliff Richard, the heavy melodic bass was by Jet Harris, percussion was by Tony Meehan and Cliff Richard, who played a Chinese drum at the beginning and end to provide an atmosphere of stereotypically Native American music.

Record producer Norrie Paramor preferred the flip side, an instrumental of the army song "The Quartermaster's Stores", now called "The Quatermasster's Stores" after the TV series Quatermass. Paramor changed his mind after his daughter preferred "Apache". It has been cited by a generation of guitarists as inspirational and is considered one of the most influential British rock 45s of the pre-Beatles era. The Shadows stated –

What's the most distinctive sound of our group ? We often wondered what it is ourselves. Really, it is the sound we had when we recorded "Apache" – that kind of Hawaiian sounding lead guitar... plus the beat.

NME, September 1963[5]==Later versions[edit]==

After the Shadows version began its rise up the UK charts, Weedon's original climbed to No.24 in the UK.[6] However, neither the Shadows nor Weedon had any impact on North America. Then in 1961, Ingmann produced his own 'twangy' multi-tracked cover version that was a hit in the US and Canada. From this point, the song became a staple of instrumental combos on both sides of the Atlantic. Among many recordings, Spanish rock band Los Pekenikescovered "Apache" in 1961, The Ventures in 1962, and Davie Allan and The Arrows in 1965. Sonny James recorded a vocal music version in 1961.[3][7] It was produced in Nashville by Chet Atkins, and was review-rated as a 'Spotlight Winner'. Billboard Music Week in its edition of March 6, 1961. George Harrison said The Beatles used to play "Apache" as well as other Shadows hits ("FBI", "The Frightened City") during their shows in Hamburg.[citation needed]

In 1970, English progressive rock group The Edgar Broughton Band released a single "Apache Dropout", which combined "Apache" with a version of Captain Beefheart's "Dropout Boogie." The highly unorthodox single reached No. 33 on the UK Singles Chart.[8]

Incredible Bongo Band version (1973)[edit]Edit

"Apache" has been cited by Afrika Bambaataa as an early element of hip hop music with the record sampled and scratched by DJs. But it wasn't the hit version by the Shadows, Ingmann or Weedon that Bambaataa, Kool Herc and the like turned into "hip-hop’s anthem": it was the 1973 version by Michael Viner and an ad hoc group called the Incredible Bongo Band. They added a bongo drum intro and added more percussion. The drum break was played by legendary drummer Jim Gordon. This version was not a hit on release but became the sampled foundation of rap and hip-hop classics, reworked by hip hop performers such as the The Sugarhill GangL.L. Cool JThe RootsNas, and technoperformers Future Sound of LondonMoby and drum and bass acts J. Majik and Goldie.[3]

Hit singles built on samples of The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache"[edit]Edit

The Sugarhill Gang: "Apache" (1981)[edit]Edit

In 1981 the rap group The Sugarhill Gang covered the Incredible Bongo Band version of the song on their second album 8th Wonder. In 1982, this version peaked at No.53 on the Billboard Hot 100, No.51 on the US Dance chart, and No.13 on the US R&B chart.[9] In 1995, this version gained additional popularity after being featured in "Viva Lost Wages", a sixth-season episode of the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,[10] as well as a subsequent clip showfrom the series.[11] Using the distinctive beat and bongo drums, the Sugarhill Gang added rap lyrics with references, including:

  • The Lone Ranger (a.k.a. "kemosabe") is mentioned extensively as well as his sidekick ("Tonto, jump on it! Jump on it! Jump on it!") and his horse ("'Hi-ho, Silver!' is what I say").
  • The lyric "What you hear is not a test" recalls the Sugarhills Gang's earlier hit "Rapper's Delight".
  • The song "Popcorn" by Hot Butter (who had released a version of "Apache" as a follow-up to "Popcorn") is referenced via the lyric "(What's that?) Hot buttered popcorn!".
  • The popcorn and its butter are referenced in lyrics right beforehand, recalling a 1976 Mazola margarine commercial "We Call It Maize" featuring an American Indian woman.
  • The "Monster Mash" is mentioned in this song as well as the Jerk.

Sir Mix-A-Lot: "Jump on It" (1996)[edit]Edit

In 1996, Sir Mix-A-Lot played off of the lyrics to The Sugarhill Gang's "Apache" in his hit version of "Jump on It", released on the album Return of the Bumpasaurus.

Fatboy Slim: "Apache" (1998)[edit]Edit

  • The movie Snatch soundtrack has an extract of a DJ mix CD (On The Floor At The Boutique) by Fatboy Slim, which contained the Incredible Bongo Band version of Apache.

Switch: "A Bit Patchy" (2005/2006)[edit]Edit

In 2005, Switch extensively sampled the covered version by Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band for his track A Bit Patchy (wordplay on "Apache"). The track has since been used to advertise William Hill Online on TV, and has been remixed by artists such as Eric Prydz and Sinden.

Other songs that sample The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache"[edit]Edit

Other versions[edit]Edit

The following are different non-hit, but still notable recordings of "Apache" – not songs that sample The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache".

  • In the 1961, Si Zentner released a version on his "Big Band Plays the Big Hits" album, along with "Up a Lazy River."
  • In 1969, Eyes of Blue released a version entitled Apache '69, under the name the Imposters. The B side of this Mercury label release (MF1080) was the song QIII.
  • In 1972 the Moog-based band of session musicians called Hot Butter released a cover version of "Apache" as follow-up to their hit "Popcorn".
  • In 1976 the electro-rock French band Rockets, in their first eponymous album, released a version featuring synthesizers, disco-rock drumming, and heavily treated guitars.
  • In the 1970s the Tennessee Farm Band did a version.
  • In 1977, The Tommy Seebach Band recorded a disco-styled version and filmed an accompanying music video of "Apache". Set on a rocky hillside, it featured scantily-clad dancers adoring a grinning Tommy Seebach while he plays keyboards. This version was successful in Europe and later became an Internet meme.
  • A 30-second edit of The Shadows version was used in an April 1988 UK TV advertisement for Tango fizzy drink.
  • Black Sabbath with Tony Martin on vocals played a live cover of the song at their 1989 concert in Moscow.
  • Ska-Dows recorded a ska version of "Apache", including some lyrics, mostly the word "Apache!" shouted repeatedly.
  • In 1992, Norwegian a cappella group Bjelleklang recorded their version of "Apache" on the album "Holiholihoo".
  • The California Guitar Trio covered Apache for their 1995 album, Invitation
  • Wyclef Jean's "Masquerade" includes the melodic hook played on violin as the song closes.
  • In 2002 Portishead's Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley recorded a cover version which was released on limited white, green, pink and black vinyl 7" single under the name The Jimi Entley Sound.
  • In 2005, the German band Scooter covered this song as an instrumental for the album Who's Got The Last Laugh Now? in a techno version. Later that year, a single was released which combined elements of "Apache" and "Rock Bottom" from the same album, known as "Apache Rocks The Bottom". This later appeared on the 2nd Disc of the UK Edition of their 2008 album Jumping All Over The World.
  • Angel Parra Trio, a Chilean Latin jazz band, covered this song on his 2005 album Playa Solitaria.
  • On the 2006 album Hier is Normaal, the Dutch band Normaal made a compilation of instrumental songs of their own and other artists. Apache is also in it. The song, "Varkens Pesten", means literally "bullying pigs".
  • French guitarist Jean-Pierre Danel recorded a version of "Apache" on his #1 hit album "Guitar Connection" (Sony Music) in 2006. The abum went platinum and included a DVD on which Danel shows how to play the songs, including "Apache". Linked with The Shadows for years, Danel later recorded duets with Hank Marvin on other songs.
  • On Missy Elliott's album The Cookbook, "We Run This" uses Apache as background music.
  • "Apache" was covered by the folk band 17 Hippies on their 2007 album Heimlich.
  • Junior Brown regularly performs Apache in his live shows.
  • Switch – A Bit Patchy (features samples of Apache)
  • Subfocus – A Bit Patchy (features samples of Apache)
  • In 2010, Jeff Beck performed a version of Apache during his tribute concert for Les Paul in New York City; it was released in February 2011 on the CD Jeff Beck's Rock n' Roll Party Honoring Les Paul, and also performed on the DVD/Blu-ray release of the same concert, also released in February 2011.
  • A version of Apache was used as the theme to the long-running television show Wild Chicago, which aired in Chicago on PBS.
  • "Symphony of the Nymph" (2012) by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (features a melody from Apache)

Minnesota Lynx[edit]Edit

The Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA adopted "Apache" as the unofficial team anthem in 2007. Following victories, the team would dance to the song at center court.[12] For the first home game of the team's first WNBA Finals appearance, the team brought in the Sugarhill Gang to perform the song at halftime.

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