Apache – The Shadows

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………….on August 25th of 1960 The Shadows reach #1 in the UK with their classic instrumental “Apache”.” The tune stands today as probably the best-known work by British proto-surf-rock band The Shadows. Being a #1 hit in the UK in 1960 was just the beginning; the instrumental song with an Old West motif was a worldwide hit with the #1 position in seven international charts at the same time: UK, Australia, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, and South Africa. With a record like that, why didn’t it chart in the US? Mostly because The Shadows didn’t get much promotion in America, and also because they didn’t go there to tour. Had some enterprising American DJ found the record and given it some spins, this story may have had a different ending, but The Shadows couldn’t break through. It took a year before the song finally charted in the US, and it was a version by the Danish jazz guitarist Jorgen Ingmann that did it. He went to #2 with the song in 1961 – his only US hit. The Shadows guitarist was a 6-string wizard named Hank Marvin, and his work on this song inspired a legion of young British guitarists. In a 1963 interview for NME magazine, The Shadows referred to this song as an example of what distinctive sound they had that made them special. To get this “Hawaiian sound” (as they put it) to the lead guitar, you need to plug American Fender guitars into British Vox amplifiers. At least, that was how they did it. John Lennon once claimed that The Shadows were one of the only things in British music “worth listening to” before The Beatles came along. This song was written by Jerry Lordan, a British singer/guitarist/songwriter who had three UK hits in the ’60s, including “Who Could Be Bluer,” which was on the charts when he toured with The Shadows early in 1960. Lordan played “Apache” for the Shadows on the tour bus using his ukulele, which he used to write songs, and The Shadows loved it. The Shadows released three singles before they finally hit big with “Apache.” The group was also Cliff Richard’s backing band, and Richard played on this track. Richard used a Chinese drum to simulate the Old West percussion sound.