"Apache" 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.
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.
Jerry Lordan got the idea for this song after watching the 1954 film Apache, starring Burt Lancaster as the Apache warrior Massai. Said Lordan: "I wanted something noble and dramatic, reflecting the courage and savagery of the Indian."