Saturday, April 06, 2013

Shadows' "Apache" With Sonny James Lyrics

Sonny James: 
RIP 1928 - 2016 aged 87


The solid guitar instrumental version of *Apache meant fame and fortune for British group The Shadows when the song topped the UK Singles Chart for weeks in mid-1960.  Composed by Jerry Lordan it is in the list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. The public raved and the song became a worldwide hit. Even until today it is still being played, revived, mixed and re-mixed by many different bands and artistes.
Many groups like The Ventures, Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra, Surfaris, Aces Combo, artistes like Duane Eddy, Jorgen Ingmann, Bert Weedon and Chet Atkins covered it. 

In Singapore, guitar groups that aspired to be 'famous' were able to play the twanging version and nearly every Singapop group used it as their opening act on stage.  From 1960 Singapore was invaded by Apache with The Quests, Checkmates, The Trailers and others.

In 1973, when the original Shadows' version was still a hot favourite, a hip-hop version by the Incredible Bongo Band emerged with a great following and in 1981 there was even a rap version by Sugarhill called, Gang Apache (Jump On It) with fascinating bongo play.  

Check out Wikipedia's long list of Apache covers and versions which come right up to 2011.  But if we turn the clock back to the beginning when it was first composed there is a flip side to this interesting tale.
                    The late Sonny James who passed on in February 2016.

For some readers who may not be familiar with Apache there is a less known non-instrumental version of this song. This out-shadowed version with lyrics was recorded in 1961 and was said to have been written by living legend and singer/songwriter Sonny James of Young Love fame (above).   

It was produced in Nashville by Chet Atkins and was review-rated as a Spotlight Winner. Billboard Music Week in its edition of March 6, 1961. Evidently, from the information on the RCA Single (101046), the lyrics were written by one Johnny Flamingo and James was the singer.

Without further ado, and thanking YouTube and Steve Wood, here's the real love story of an Apache brave (Golden Hawk) and the American Indian maiden (Silver Dove) who is still haunted by her love for him.

                            Sonny James' Apache. Video by Steve Wood
Lonely Silver Dove
Sweet Apache maid
Lonely Silver Dove
Sweet Apache maid

Alone, all alone by the campfire

She dreamed of her love, her delight
Away, far away on the prairie
Her love Golden Hawk shared the night

Sometimes at night with the moon, he would come

Sweet were the moments they shared
But with the dawn, he was gone with the sun

A smoke sign arose from the prairie

A breeze sighed a sad mournful song
The brave Golden Hawk had departed
Had gone to that great, great beyond

Sometimes at night when there's rain in the sky

She hears her love high above
He and his pony go thundering by...
*Johnny Preston's Running Bear (1959) has a similar theme. Also sung by Sonny James this song was a big hit by J. P. Richardson (The Big Bopper).
"With a love big as the sky
Running Bear loved Little White Dove
With a love that couldn't die."


MoosicandCritters said...

This is the first time I've heard this song with the lyrics. Matter of fact, I never even knew there were lyrics!  Thank you so much for posting this beautiful song!

ThePossumboy said...

This IS one of my favorite Sonny James songs! He was with RCA at the time-released as an RCA Camden lp from 1967 but the recording is from 1962. Awesome video-it really does go with the song!!

DannyDeeCountry said...

I am a touring entertainer on the casino circuits. For years, I've told my guitar player that there are words to this song, but could never find a copy to prove it. Now I finally can. Excellent job on the slide show. Thx. Danny

Maureen712 said...

Apache was written by Jerry Lordan. Lordan had given the song to Bert Weedon to record but he didn't like Weedon's version. Jerry liked a British group named The Shadows so he played the song for them. The Shadows recorded it and their version was a hit. It used to be difficult for British performers to get air time in the U.S. so when a song was a hit in Britain, it was re-recorded by an American and released in the U.S. Apache was covered by the Ventures, the Safari's and others.

(Maureen712 contributed this whole posting and video on You Tube).

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

All Comments above are from You Tube and extra information is meant to be shared with those who love this song.

BATURO45 said...

Hi Andy,

This article/video is a gem for oldies like me.

The singer sounded like Frankie Laine but of course it's SonnyJames who sang the song.

After all these years we learn of the lyrics to Apache! Incredible!

Thank you for sharing. Stay well Abang.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you both for sharing. It's true that many pop song enthusiasts are not aware of this version by Sonny James.

I am still learning too. Yes, he does sound like Frankie Laine although I thought he was Perry Como :)

FL said...

Like all of you, I was very surprised indeed to hear the vocal version of the Apache for the first time in my life !! Andy, how did you suddenly post this and not earlier ? Most of us or rather of all, have been listening to the instrumental version by the great Shadows in the early sixties. You really beat of us, eh ? I mean many thanks to you. Also, I concur with Maureen712 that it was difficult for some British artistes' hits to be accepted by the US around 1960/70, Cliff Richard included. It was the Ventures (US group) who re-recorded the Apache with a different beat.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks FL for your interest in the posting. You are right; I should have posted this information earlier but I thought many 60s pop song lovers would have known about it earlier.

Regarding UK artistes, it is true that even up till today Cliff Richard is not popular in the US.

"Many a tear has to fall but it's all in the game..."

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

"James Hugh Loden (May 1, 1928 – February 22, 2016), known professionally as Sonny James, was an American country music singer and songwriter best known for his 1957 hit, "Young Love". Dubbed the 'Southern Gentleman' for his congenial manner, his greatest success came from ballads about the trials of love.

James had 72 country and pop charted releases from 1953 to 1983, including an unprecedented five-year streak of 16 straight Billboard #1 singles among his 26 #1 hits. Twenty-one of his albums reached the country top ten from 1964 to 1976. James was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007 (extract from WIKI)".

He passed away on Monday 22nd Feb 2016, today being Thursday 25th February 2016.

RIP Sonny James.


Thanks for video of Young Love and didn't know he is the original singer for Only The Lonely. Thought it was Roy Orbison.


Thanks Andy, remembered him for YOUNG LOVE.

JC said...

Hi Andy,

wow...first time I'm listening to the lyrics of the famed Apache instrumental hit. Had all along thought that it was a purely instrumental composition. Thanks for posting it on your blog and a big thank you to contributor Maureen712 as well.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Because of his passing away, this posting about Sonny James and the pop APACHE has been slightly revised.


Young Love was an evergreen hit of the old days. It's a nice choice selection. You will never get bored hearing over and over again. Thanks.


Hi Andy. A few years ago while at SRC, I heard the vocal version of Apache for the first time. It was the birthday of my friend, Jerry Lee, a public accountant. Each year to celebrate his birthday he would have his birthday party at SRC and his band would entertain through the night. I was not aware that there was a vocal version of Apache until that night. We are all learning something new all the time!

While the Shads version of Apache is more vibrant and is the version most of us are accustomed to, the version by The Ventures, to me, seems to have more depth and a certain "feel" to it. The Apaches were the true Americans, the sons of the soil and The Ventures being an all American outfit were able to interpret the piece, for lack of a better term, in a more American style.

The Apaches were a proud people and were a warrior tribe. Led by their greatest chief, they were able to win many battles against West Point trained Calvary officers. That great leader was of course Geronimo. By coincidence, Geronimo, was another big hit by The Shads.

For many years, Marlon Brando, tried to make a movie based on the novel, I Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. He was totally against the way the American Indians were portrayed in Western movies and he wanted people to know how the Whites mistreated the native Americans when they started to arrive in the "New World". He was unsuccessful in his attempts as no banks were prepared to finance the production of the movie. To make a personal statement, when Marlon Brando won an Oscar for The Godfather he sent an Indian girl to accept the Oscar on his behalf. Many years later the movie was eventually made as a TV special but not as a movie for theatrical release. This would translate into the probability that there were still budget constraints, as making a TV movie is considerably cheaper.

As always, many thanks to Andy for his untiring passion to keep all things 60's alive!

All the best to you Andy!



So sad, so many talented musicians died recently. Quite young too.

LAM CHUN SEE said...

Thanks for a very informative article.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for reviving this post about Sonny James and 'Apache'. A big thank you to John Cher for sharing his experience.

Leirbag said...

I have spent many years looking for the song with the lyrics again, I discovered it when I was a teenage but it was so hard for me trying to remember part of the lyrics or who played it. Thank you, I really love this song,its a poem to my soul... Makes me cry

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Leirbag for the beautiful yet moving tribute you gave for the song.
You spoke from the heart.
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