Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 380: Apache

On Summer weekends, I twist the dial of the car radio to an Oldies station, a 60’s Oldies station to be specific. It’s an homage and a return to my youth when cruisin’ was the thing you did on Summer weekends and the music I listen to now was new.

By the time I got my Driver’s license, the Beatles had been around for a while and the British Invasion was being fought back by tons of new American bands and burgeoning Canadian bands given life by the first Cancon rules.

But as wide as the variety of bands and tunes and musical styles might be, they usually had one thing in common -- the Fender Stratocaster guitar.

Every great Rock guitarist, both then and now played a Strat.  Dick Dale’s “Misirlou”, Clapton’s “Layla” and Knopfler’s “Sultans of Swing” became massive hits decades apart using the same instrument.

Among the first, way back in 1960 was a British band called “The Shadows” on a song called “Apache”. It was voted song of the year by the legendary New Music Express and is listed as one of the 100 greatest Rock instrumentals of all time.

But North Americans never heard it. They got a version by Dutch guitarist Jorgen Ingman or The Ventures.

Nor did we get much of what The Shadows released, despite lead guitarist Hank Marvin being credited as the major influence for virtually every great British band from The Beatles onward.

That might be because North American record companies saw the band as merely the backing group for teen heart-throb Cliff Richards or because at one point some marketing genius tried to sell them as a Brit Surfer band.

Despite being ignored on this side of the pond, The Shadows had a hugely successful career elsewhere and a massive string of hits covered by dozens of other artists.

In the early 70’s, as Cliff Richards’ star began to wane, they broke up, only to reform a couple of years later due to public demand.

But for all their success, there’s still something uniquely creative about their first big hit, a number that has nothing to do with the local influences at the time and continues to work its magic more than a half century later.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

For more on Mark Henry and his first Strat, visit here.

For The Shadows and Cliff Richards try this.

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