Many still believe that the defining moment of that era was Louchie Lou and Michie One trying to teach Mark "Joe Mangle" Little to Bogle on The Big Breakfast. For me, it was the hot summer lunchtime that day in Barry Island's Square when Gary Davies (or was it Jackie Brambles?) announced that Apache Indian was about to take the stage. The atmosphere was electric - the last time a crowd reacted so wildly was when The Beatles first arrived in America.
As the opening bars of Boom-Shack-A-Lack boomed out, everything was right with the world. When Apache told us to "wind our bodies" and "wriggle our bellies" we obeyed him. Oh yes, it was first class. He even did the extended mix of the track. By the end, everybody was satisfied. If he'd had the sense, Apache would have been too. Instead, he announced that he was going to perform another song. A ditty called Chok There, which was to be his new single. To quote Weezer at the end of the Buddy Holly video, this new song was "not so good, Al." Never have I seen a crowd go from rapturous applause to sheer dismay so quickly.
I swear I even heard somebody yell "Judas!" in the direction of the stage.
Suffice to say, he made me Boom-Shack-A-Leave and he never troubled the Top 20 again.
That's not to say that he didn't find other ways to make his presence felt. Some years later, I was watching late night television when I stumbled across a documentary on Channel 4 called Apache Goes Indian. It turned out to be a truly classic series that followed Birmingham's own Apache Indian as he visited India for the first time in his adult life. For me, the highlight of the documentary was a scene in which we see him being driven around on the back of an open-top jeep (a bit like that scene in Good Morning Vietnam where Robin Williams thinks he keeps seeing the same girl walking down the road). As Apache takes in the sights and sounds of the city he is moved to say "This reminds me of a song I wrote back in the UK called AIDS Warning." Once again, if he had any sense, he would have left it at that. Instead, he cleared his throat and, in his best half-Birmingham/half-fake-Jamaican singing accent (which was nothing like his actual speaking voice), he began to sing:
"This is a warning, across the nation..."
The picture then fades, not before giving us a final view of Apache's tour guide who by now has the most bemused look on his face that I have ever seen. Yes friend, I know how you feel - I've been there too.
Channel 4 really need to repeat this series for a new audience. I have a theory that watching Apache Goes Indian in these post-Ali G days would be like watching one of the Airport movies after seeing Airplane. You just couldn't be sure if it was supposed to be serious or intentionally funny. I like to think that maybe Apache was a comedy genius and a master of surprise. Instead, I'm more inclined to believe that he just had a talent for saying completely the wrong thing at exactly the right time. Thankfully, it doesn't make it any less entertaining.