Incredible Bongo Band

Last updated
Incredible Bongo Band
Also known asMichael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band
Genres Funk, rare groove, R&B
Years active1972–74
LabelsPride Records
Polydor/PolyGram Records
Website Mr Bongo Records
Past members Michael Viner

The Incredible Bongo Band, also known as Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band, was a project started in 1972 by Michael Viner, a record artist manager and executive at MGM Records. Viner was called on to supplement the soundtrack to the B-film The Thing With Two Heads . The band's output consisted of upbeat, funky, instrumental music. Many tracks were covers of popular songs of the day characterized by the prominence of bongo drums, conga drums, rock drums and brass.


Bongo Rock was featured in Robert Dimery's book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die . [1]


The band released two albums, 1973's Bongo Rock, and 1974's Return of the Incredible Bongo Band. The instrumental "Bongo Rock", co-written by Art Laboe and Preston Epps and released by Epps as a Top 40 hit in 1959, was covered by the Incredible Bongo Band (shown as "Bongo Rock '73" on the album), and became a minor US hit for them in 1973, and a substantial hit in Canada (#20).

Michael Viner would make use of MGM recording facilities in down-time, recruiting whichever studio musicians were on-hand. Important contributions were made by Jim Gordon on drums, and Bobby Hall on percussion. [2]

The first Incredible Bongo Band album included a cover of "Apache", an instrumental tune written by Jerry Lordan and originally made popular in the UK by The Shadows, and in the United States and Canada by Jørgen Ingmann. They recorded the song at Can-Base Studios in Vancouver to take advantage of Canadian content laws, which had helped promote their previous hit, "Bongo Rock." [3] The group's version of "Apache" (produced by Perry Botkin Jr.) was not a hit upon release, and languished in relative obscurity until the late 1970s, when it was adopted by early hip-hop artists, including pioneering deejay Kool Herc, for the uncommonly long percussion break in the middle of the song. Subsequently, many of the Incredible Bongo Band's other releases were sampled by hip-hop producers, and the "Apache" break also remains a staple of many producers in drum and bass. The song received popular attention again in 2001 when it was featured in an ad for an Acura SUV. In 2008, music critic Will Hermes did an article on "Apache" and the Incredible Bongo Band for the New York Times [4] and had an entire documentary devoted to it called "Sample this". In 2018, Apache was used as the soundtrack to a fight scene in Black Lightning .

As well, the band's cover of "Let There Be Drums," which was made famous by Sandy Nelson and also performed by the Ventures, was used as the theme song for the long-running television show Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling during the 1980s. It made #66 in Canada in December 1973.

"Last Bongo in Belgium" has been sampled in the songs "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun" performed by the Beastie Boys, "Angel" performed by Massive Attack and "Song of Life" performed by Leftfield.

"Let There Be Drums" was used in Ken Burns' Baseball: The 10th Inning, the follow-up to Burns' '94 PBS documentary.

"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was used as the main loop in two different songs by Nas: "Thief's Theme" and "Hip Hop Is Dead".

The 2013 documentary Sample This, directed by Dan Forrer and narrated by Gene Simmons, recounts the story of the Incredible Bongo Band and its recording of "Apache". [5] [6]

"Bongolia" was used in Edgar Wright's 2017 film Baby Driver .


A cover group was formed by musician Shawn Lee, with the parallel name "Shawn Lee's Incredible Tabla Band". They released a cover album with Ubiquity Records in 2011. The album was entitled Tabla Rock, based on the album Bongo Rock. On Tabla Rock, Lee covered the entire Bongo Band debut album, as well as two tracks from their second album. Lee's album covers the music on tabla instead of bongo, presenting it in an Indian-funk style. [7] [8]

Movie Sample This

Movie Sample This (2012), cast include: [9]

Stuff [10] include:


Bongo Rock

Cover art for the 1973 album Bongo Rock Bongo Rock cover.png
Cover art for the 1973 album Bongo Rock

Released 1973.

  1. "Let There Be Drums"
  2. "Apache"
  3. "Bongolia"
  4. "Last Bongo in Belgium"
  5. "Dueling Bongos"
  6. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
  7. "Raunchy '73"
  8. "Bongo Rock '73"

The Return of the Incredible Bongo Band

Cover art for the 1974 album The Return of the Incredible Bongo Band Return of the Incredible Bongo Band album art.png
Cover art for the 1974 album The Return of the Incredible Bongo Band

Released 1974.

  1. "Kiburi"
  2. "When the Bed Breaks Down, I'll Meet You in the Spring"
  3. "Sing, Sing, Sing"
  4. "Pipeline"
  5. "Wipe Out"
  6. "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Your Tie's Caught In Your Zipper"
  7. "Slightly Reminiscent of Topsy, Parts One, Two And Three"
  8. "Sharp Nine"
  9. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
  10. "Got The Sun in the Morning and the Daughter At Night"
  11. "Ohkey Dokey"

Bongo Rock (2006 Compilation)

LP Release

A1. "Apache"
A2. "Let There Be Drums"
A3. "Bongolia"
A4. "Wipe Out"
B1. "Dueling Bongos"
B2. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
B3. "Raunchy '73"
C1. "Last Bongo in Belgium"
C2. "Bongo Rock '73"
C3. "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Your Tie's Caught in Your Zipper"
C4. "Sharp Nine"
D1. "Kiburi"
D2. "Sing, Sing, Sing"
D3. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
D4. "Ohkey Dokey"
D5. "When the Bed Breaks Down, I'll Meet You in the Spring"

2001 Compilation CD Release

  1. "Let There Be Drums"
  2. "Bongolia"
  3. “Kiburi”
  4. "Apache"
  5. "Sing, Sing, Sing"
  6. "Dueling Bongos"
  7. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
  8. "Raunchy '73"
  9. "Bongo Rock '73"
  10. "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Your Tie's Caught in Your Zipper"
  11. "Sharp Nine"
  12. "Okey Dokey"
  13. "Pipeline"
  14. "When the Bed Breaks Down, I'll Meet You in the Spring"
  15. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
  16. "Wipe Out"
  17. "Last Bongo in Belgium"
  18. "Got the Sun in the Morning and the Daughter at Night"
  19. "Slightly Reminiscent of Topsy"

2006 CD Release

  1. "Apache"
  2. "Let There Be Drums"
  3. "Bongolia"
  4. "Last Bongo in Belgium"
  5. "Dueling Bongos"
  6. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
  7. "Raunchy '73"
  8. "Bongo Rock '73"
  9. "Kiburi"
  10. "Sing, Sing, Sing"
  11. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
  12. "Wipe Out"
  13. "When the Bed Breaks Down, I'll Meet You in the Spring"
  14. "Pipeline"
  15. "Ohkey Dokey"
  16. "Sharp Nine"
  17. "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Your Tie's Caught in Your Zipper"
  18. "Apache (Grandmaster Flash Remix)"
  19. "Last Bongo in Belgium (Breakers Mix)"

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  1. Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN   978-0-7893-2074-2.
  2. Incredible Bongo Band, Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band: Bongo Rock, Produced by Michael Viner and Perry Botkin Jr., Mr. Bongo Records 2006 MRBCD043, liner notes
  3. "How Vancouver's Mushroom Studios Gave Birth To Apache, the "national anthem of hip-hop"". Vancouver Sun. 25 March 2013.
  4. Hermes, Will (2006-10-29). "All Rise for the National Anthem of Hip-Hop". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
  5. Odie Henderson, Review of Sample This,, September 13, 2013.
  6. Francois Marchand, "Breaking down Apache (with video): New film Sample This examines ‘national anthem of hip-hop’ recorded in Vancouver", Vancouver Sun , November 15, 2013.
  7. "Shawn Lee's Incredible Tabla Band - Tabla Rock". Ubiquity Records. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  8. "Covers by Shawn Lee's Incredible Tabla Band". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  9. Sample This Retrieved 24 February 2021
  10. Incredible Bongo Band, Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band: Bongo Rock, Produced by Michael Viner and Perry Botkin Jr., Mr. Bongo Records 2006 MRBCD043, liner notes