Apache (instrumental)

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Apache by The Shadows.jpg
Single by The Shadows
B-side "Quatermasster's Stores" (Trad: arr Bill Shepherd)
Released July 1960 (UK)
Recorded 17 June 1960, EMI Studios, London
Genre Instrumental rock
Label Columbia DB4484[1]
Writer(s) Jerry Lordan[1]
Producer(s) Norrie Paramor[1]
The Shadows singles chronology
"Saturday Dance"
"Man of Mystery"

"Apache" is a much-recorded instrumental written by Jerry Lordan.[1] The original version was by the British group the Shadows, recorded in June 1960 and released the next month. It topped the UK Singles Chart for five weeks.[2][3]

In North America, the tune is identified with Jørgen Ingmann, a jazz guitarist from Denmark.,[1] who recorded his own famous version of "Apache" in the fall of 1960, and which was released in the United States in November 1960. In 1961, this cover version, credited to "Jørgen Ingmann and His Guitar", made No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 on the US R&B chart.[4] 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".[5] Although this version was not a hit on release, its long percussion break has been sampled countless times on hip hop 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.

Composition and original recording[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.[1] It remained unreleased for several months.[6] In mid-1960 the Shadows were on tour with Lordan as a supporting act. The band discovered "Apache" when Lordan played it on a ukulele.[1] Lordan figured the tune would fit the Shadows; the band agreed.

Shadows version[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 did not 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 said –

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[7]

Later versions[edit]

After the Shadows version began its rise up the UK charts, Weedon's original climbed to No. 24 in the UK.[8] However, neither the Shadows nor Weedon had any impact on North America. Then, in late 1960, Jorgen Ingmann produced his own 'twangy' multi-tracked cover version that was released in the United States in November 1960, and became a hit in 1961 in the United States and Canada.[1] 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 music version in 1961.[5][9] 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.[10]

Incredible Bongo Band version (1973)[edit]

"Apache" has been cited by Afrika Bambaataa as an early element of hip hop music with the record sampled and scratched by DJs. However, the hit versions by the Shadows, Ingmann or Weedon were not the versions that Bambaataa, Kool Herc and the like turned into "hip-hop’s anthem:" the 1973 version by Michael Viner and a funk group called "The Incredible Bongo Band" was the version in question. The Incredible Bongo Band added a bongo drum introduction and included more percussion. The drum break was played by legendary drummer Jim Gordon. Though this version was not a hit on its initial release, it 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.[5]

The 2013 documentary Sample This, directed by Dan Forrer and narrated by Gene Simmons, recounts the story of The Incredible Bongo Band and its recording of "Apache."[11][12]

Notable samples[edit]

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

In 1981, the rap group known as The Sugarhill Gang covered the Incredible Bongo Band's version of the song on its 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.[13] 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,[14] as well as in "Whoops, There It Is," a subsequent clip show from the series.[15] Using the distinctive beat and bongo drums as well as Indian war cries, 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-yo, Silver!' is what I say").
  • The lyric "Now what you hear is not a test" recalls the Sugarhill 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 recording engineer for Sugar Hill Records Steve Jerome was also a member and engineer for "Popcorn" by Hot Butter.
  • The popcorn and its butter are referenced in lyrics right beforehand, recalling a 1976 Mazola margarine commercial "We Call It Maize" featuring a Native American woman.
  • The "Monster Mash" is mentioned in this song, as well as the Jerk.

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

In 1996, Sir Mix-A-Lot played off the lyrics to The Sugarhill Gang's version of "Apache" in his hit version of "Jump on It," released on the album Return of the Bumpasaurus. The lyrics contained the names of cities of the United States.[16]

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

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

Kool G Rap - Men At Work"

Other cover versions[edit]

  • In the 1961, Si Zentner released a version on his Big Band Plays the Big Hits album, along with "Up a Lazy River."
  • The Ventures released a version on their 1963 Dolton album The Ventures Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull, BST 8019
  • In 1969, Eyes of Blue released a version titled "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.
  • 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.
  • The 1992 compilation album Ruby Trax features a version of "Apache" by Senseless Things.
  • In 1992, Norwegian a cappella group Bjelleklang recorded their version of "Apache" on the album Holiholihoo.
  • In 1993, General Base, one of the projects of Thomas Kukula, released Apache as single and it also appears on the First album.
  • 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-inch single under the name The Jimi Entley Sound.
  • in 2003, Jimmy Thackery, Texas-based Blues man,covered Apache for his album Guitar.
  • 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 second Disc of the UK edition of its 2008 album Jumping All Over The World.
  • 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 No. 1 hit album Guitar Connection (Sony Music) in 2006. The album went platinum and included a DVD on which Danel shows how to play the songs, including "Apache".
  • In 2010 Cisco Herzhaft performs a solo version in finger picking on his album "The Cisco's System"
  • 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")
  • David Bowie borrowed part of the melody of Apache for the chorus of the song "How Does the Grass Grow?" from his 2013 album The Next Day.[17]

Minnesota Lynx[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.[18] 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.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 53. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  2. ^ "Apache (song by The Shadows) • Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1960-07-23. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 114–5. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ "Apache (song by Jørgen Ingmann) • Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1961-01-23. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  5. ^ a b c Michaelangelo Matos, Abstract: All Roads Lead to ‘Apache’", Pop Conference, Experience Music Project 2005. Accessed online 7 July 2011
  6. ^ "The Official Bert Weedon Website - Interview". Bertweedon.com. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  7. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 124. CN 5585. 
  8. ^ "Apache (song by Bert Weedon) • Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1960-07-30. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  9. ^ "Search Results for Apache". Rcs-discography.com. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  10. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952–2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 110. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
  11. ^ Odie Henderson, Review of Sample This, RogerEbert.com, September 13, 2013.
  12. ^ Francois Marchand, "Breaking down Apache (with video): New film Sample This examines ‘national anthem of hip-hop’ recorded in Vancouver", Vancouver Sun, November 15, 2013.
  13. ^ "Apache (song by The Sugarhill Gang) • Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1982-02-13. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  14. ^ Robert Bruce (writer); Shelley Jensen (director) (November 13, 1995). "Viva Lost Wages". The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Season 6. Episode 8. NBC. 
  15. ^ Mary Beth Pemberton and Tanya Ward (writers); Shelley Jensen (director) (April 15, 1996). "I, Whoops, There It Is". The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Season 6. Episode 19. NBC. 
  16. ^ Spata, Christopher (22 August 2014). "Songwriters have long been in tune with Tampa". Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  17. ^ McCormick, Neil (25 February 2013). "David Bowie, The Next Day, album review". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "muneraven: Why I love the Minnesota Lynx". Muneraven.livejournal.com. 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  19. ^ "Lynx: Sugar Hill Gang to Perform at Game 1". Wnba.com. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Please Don't Tease"
by Cliff Richard and The Shadows
UK number one single
25 August 1960
(5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Tell Laura I Love Her" by Ricky Valance