“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 next month. It topped the UK Singles Chart for five weeks.
In North America, the tune is identified with Jørgen Ingmann, a jazz guitarist from Denmark., 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. 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”. 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.
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.
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.