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"Apache" is an instrumental written by English composer Jerry Lordan. The original version was by Bert Weedon, but Lordan did not like the version. The British rock group the Shadows recorded "Apache" in June 1960 and released it the next month. It topped the UK Singles Chart for five weeks.
In 1961, Danish jazz guitarist Jørgen Ingmann's cover of "Apache" (which he recorded in the fall of 1960) went to No. 2 in the US and No. 2 in Canada. 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, 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" by The Shadows at No. 96 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.
Composition and original recording
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. 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. Lordan figured the tune would fit the Shadows; the band agreed.
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.
The Shadows' "Apache" entered the UK top 40 on 21 July 1960 at no. 35, climbing into the top 20 the following week. A fortnight later, the song rose twelve places to no. 3 and, on 25 August, deposed "Please Don't Tease" - on which The Shadows backed Cliff Richard - to begin a five-week run at no. 1.
On 29 September, "Apache" dropped to no.2, replaced by "Tell Laura I Love Her" by Ricky Valance. The Shadows version proved to be an enduring hit, enjoying a 19-week run in the top 40 which concluded on 24 November, reappearing for one more week on 8 December. During this run, the group's follow-up single "Man of Mystery/The Stranger" peaked at no.5, alongside the no.3 success of "Nine Times Out of Ten" (backing Cliff Richard).
Jørgen Ingmann version
After the Shadows version began its rise up the UK charts, Weedon's original climbed to no.24 in the UK. However, neither the Shadows nor Weedon had any impact on North America. Then, in late 1960, Jørgen Ingmann produced his own 'twangy' multi-tracked cover version that 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, behind Blue Moon by The Marcels. On other US charts, "Apache" reached No. 9 on the US R&B chart. The track reached no.1 on Canada's CHUM Chart.
A reworked version of this song for children titled "Jump on It!" is featured as the title track on The Sugarhill Gang's album Jump on It!. This song differs from the original version with the signature "Jump on it" line being replaced by "Jump up", lyrics encouraging children to learn science, mathematics, and English, and a stronger funk influence.
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"
The Beastie Boys used a sample from the Incredible Bongo Band version of "Apache" in their live version of "Root Down" - most notably the version that appears on the Tibetan Freedom Concert live album.
The Roots sample the bongo break at the beginning for their song "Thought @ Work" from their album Phrenology, which is an homage to "Men at Work" by Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, which also samples the break.
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 around a grinning Tommy Seebach while he plays keyboards. This version was successful in Europe.
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"
"Apache" was covered by the folk band 17 Hippies on their 2007 album Heimlich.
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.
Wyclef Jean's "Masquerade" includes the melodic hook played on violin as the song closes.
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.
A 30-second edit of The Shadows version was used in an April 1988 UK TV advertisement for Tango fizzy drink.
An 80-second edit of The Shadows version was used in the 1989 feature film Scandal about the Profumo affair.
A 60-second portion of a re-mastered version by The Shadows was used in the 2012/13 UK TV advert for Mattessons 'Fridge Raiders' snack. It is known as the 'You must be Hank Marvin' advert reflecting the Rhyming slang term for starving.
A version of "Apache" was used as the theme to the long-running television show Wild Chicago, which aired in Chicago on PBS.
Another 30 second sampled version by The Incredible Bongo Band is used in a TIAA commercial in 2018
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. 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.
^ abcdefghRice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 53. ISBN0-85112-250-7.