A History of the "Apache" Breakbeat

Bert Weedon "Apache" (1960)

Album: King Size Guitar
Label: Top Rank
Producer: N/A

In 1959, a British RAF veteran and ad man named Jerry Lordan saw a five-year-old Burt Lancaster action flick, Apache, very loosely based on the story of Massai, the last Apache left after Geronimo surrendered to the U.S. cavalry in New Mexico. The movie inspired Lordan—a part-time songwriter-to pen a simple, resonant riff that seemed to trail dust in its wake.

The first version of "Apache" was by Bert Weedon, who died at 91 this April 20. Weedon was the first solo guitarist to have a hit in England (with 1959's "Guitar Boogie Shuffle"); his guitar-instruction books helped inspire the first wave of British rock-up to and including the Beatles-but his skipping, jaunty take on "Apache" inspired brickbats from Lordan decades later.

"He hasn't even played the music that I wrote," the songwriter told an interviewer in 1993, two years before he died. "I wanted something noble and dramatic, reflecting the courage and savagery of the Indian." Weedon hardly provides that. But before anyone else laid hands on it, he proved one of the ineffable rules of "Apache"it sounds good at any tempo.

Tags: bert_weedon
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