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Album: Stranger On The ShoreReleased: 1961Charted:
Acker Bilk was Bernard Stanley Bilk of Somerset, England ("Acker" is a term for "friend"). He took up the clarinet in the UK Royal Army. In 1958, he formed the Paramount Jazz Band. This is an instrumental song featuring Bilk's clarinet. Bilk died on November 2, 2014 at age 85.
Bilk claimed that he wrote this song in a taxicab.
Originally named "Jenny" (after his daughter) on his LP Sentimental Journey
, the song's name was changed when Bilk played it as the theme song for a new children's TV show, Stranger On The Shore
. The show, which aired on the BBC, the was about a French "Au Pair" girl living in England - she was the Stranger On The Shore. The closing credits were over film of her standing on the beach looking out to sea, towards France.
Six months after this hit #1 in England, it went to #1 in the US, where Billboard named it the #1 single for the year 1962. It topped the charts there for seven weeks.
Andy Williams and The Drifters each recorded vocal versions of this song. The Drifters made #73 US with their rendition, which peaked two weeks before Acker Bilk went to #1 with the song in May 1962. In July, Williams made #38 US with his version.
The lyric for the vocal versions was written by Robert Mellin, a songwriter/music publisher who co-wrote the 1952 song "My One and Only Love." Mellin's lyric finds the stranger on the shore heartbroken, wishing his love will return.
The band Squeeze paid tribute to this song with a track on their 1982 album Sweets From A Stranger called "Stranger Than the Stranger on the Shore."