Apache (instrumental)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"Apache" is an instrumental written by Jerry Lordan. It has been recorded by many people, but the first released version was recorded by British group The Shadows in June 1960 and released the following month. The song topped the UK singles chart for five weeks. In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Apache" at number 96 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

In North America, the song is identified with Jørgen Ingmann, a jazz guitarist from Denmark. In 1961, Ingmann produced a cover version that, billed to "Jørgen Ingmann and His Guitar," made number two on the US pop chart, and number one on Canada's CHUM Chart.

A 1973 version by the Incredible Bongo Band has been called "hip-hop’s national anthem". 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 from the 1980s.


Composition and original recording

English songwriter, 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. In the 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

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 Stratocaster. Bruce 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

Later versions of the same music

After the Shadows version began its rise up the UK charts, Weedon's original climbed to #24 in the UK. 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 Pekenikes covered "Apache" in 1961; The Ventures in 1962; and Davie Allan and The Arrows in 1965. Sonny James recorded a vocal version in 1961.

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 # 33 on the UK Singles Chart.

Incredible Bongo Band version (1973)

"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. 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 Sugarhill Gang, L.L. Cool J, The Roots, Nas, and techno performers Future Sound of London, Moby and drum and bass acts J. Majik and Goldie.

Hit singles built on samples of The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache"

Sugarhill Gang: "Apache" (1981)

In 1981 the rap group Sugarhill Gang covered the Incredible Bongo Band version of the song on their second album 8th Wonder. In 1995 this version gained new popularity after being featured in "Viva Lost Wages", a sixth-season episode of the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as well as a subsequent clip show from the series. Using the distinctive beat and bongo drums, the Sugarhill Gang added rap lyrics with references, including:

  • The Lone Ranger is mentioned extensively; "Tonto, jump on it! Jump on it! Jump on it!" and "Hi-ho Silver (is what I say)".
  • The lyric "What you hear is not a test" refers to the song "Rapper's Delight".
  • The "Popcorn" song by Hot Butter (who had released a version of "Apache" as a follow-up to "Popcorn.") is recalled via the lyric "What's that? Hot butter popcorn!"
  • The "Monster Mash" is mentioned in this song.
  • The question "What's that?" seems to refer to a 1976 Mazola Margarine "We Call It Maize" commercial featuring a supposed American Indian woman.

Sir Mix-A-Lot: "Jump on It" (1996)

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

Fatboy Slim: "Apache" (1998)

  • 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.

Other songs that sample The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache"

Other versions

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

  • 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 a disco-styled music video of "Apache" featured The Tommy Seebach Band. Set on a rocky hillside, it featured scantily-clad dancers adoring a grinning keyboard player. This version was later turned into an Internet meme.
  • 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".
  • 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 showed Wild Chicago, which aired in Chicago on PBS.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Apache (instrumental)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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