Sample This: The Story of ‘Apache’ and The Incredible Bongo Band
I caught this fascinating documentary on Netflix last night. I hadn’t planned on it, Hell I had never even heard of it before. It just popped up in my Netflix feed…It’s a little independent documentary from 2013 called ‘Sample This.’ And while I’d never heard of the film, I am very familiar with its subject, which is a song. Not just any song, but one of the most heavily-sampled recordings in hip-hop and pop music history. It’s a track from 1973 called ‘Apache‘ by The Incredible Bongo Band. And while that might not sound too familiar to you, I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard at least part of it before. Don’t believe me? Give a listen:
I first became aware of The Incredible Bongo Band several years ago, but don’t ask me how because I don’t remember…Nevertheless, ‘Apache’ and the other tracks on their first album ‘Bongo Rock’ have become favorites, even showing up regularly on my running playlists. They’re fun, percussive, upbeat, funky bongo-filled and slightly kitschy tunes.What I wasn’t aware of was the rather crazy story behind ‘Apache’ and its creator Michael Viner. I’m not going to spoil things and tell you the whole story here; I will tell you that it involves Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, football legend Rosey Grier, The Partridge Family, Spike Jones, Frank Sinatra, the “classic” B-movie The Thing With Two Head, and a good chunk of the history of Hip-Hop. Among many other things. As if that wasn’t enough, the film is narrated by, of all people, Gene Simmons of KISS.
Sample This was based on a 2006 New York Times article by Will Hermes about the history and significance of ‘Apache,’ an article with the incredibly awesome title “All Rise for the National Anthem of Hip-Hop.” Click the link to check it out.
For fans of music and musical history (even if you’re not a huge Hip-Hop fan), Sample This is a rather entertaining look at how one throwaway song from 1973 can end up influencing an entire genre of music decades later. That, to me, is fascinating. I stumbled across Sample This on Netflix, where YOU can check it out, too. Just click RIGHT HERE!
The Incredible Bongo Band was made up of studio musicians assembled by Michael Viner. In addition to their debut album “Bongo Rock” in 1973, they also recorded a second album in 1974, “The Return of The Incredible Bongo Band.” A compilation, also titled “Bongo Rock,” was released by Mr. Bongo Records in 2006.
VIVA LA BONGO ROCK!!!