Stranger On The Shore

Album: Stranger On The Shore (1961)
Charted: 2 1


  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Anne Wade - Glasgow, Scotland
  • 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.
  • This was the first song written and performed by a British artist to top the US charts. The closest any UK artist had come to that point was Lonnie Donegan, who hit #5 in 1961 with "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor (On The Bedpost Over Night)." Laurie London hit #1 in America with "He's Got The Whole World (In His Hands)" in 1958, but that's a traditional song.
  • 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."

Comments: 15

  • Anne from Australia Where was this film clip filmed?
  • Timothy from OregonThere was a movie short with Bilk playing Stranger on the Shore and a woman doing sensuous gyrations on a tiger rug. I saw it in a theatre before Lawrence of Arabia. I can't find it anywhere on the internet.
  • Ed from Keene, New Hampshire@Deek: Ginger Baker did play and record with Acker Bilk (circa 1957), but had long left by the time this song was played.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 10th 1962, "Stranger On The Shore" by Mr. Acker Bilk entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #80; and on May 20th it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and spent 21 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 11 of those 21 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    After its one week at #1 it spent the next three weeks at #2 ("I Can't Stop Lovin' You" by Ray Charles knocked it out of the top spot)...
    And on April 15th it reached #1 (for 7 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart (and it was Mr. Charles who also replaced at #1 on this chart)...
    During its stay on the Top 10 two vocal versions of the song entered the Top 100; The Drifters (peaked at #73) and Andy Williams (reached #38)...
    R.I.P. Mr. Charles (1930 - 2004), Mr. Williams (1927 - 2012), and Mr. Bilk, born Bernard Stanley Bilk, celebrated his 85th birthday two months ago January 28th (2014).
  • Jonesy from Los Angeles, CaThis was also featured in the movie The Flamingo Kid
  • Bill from Gurnee, Il@Deek: Ginger played on this song? I didn't know that.
  • Bill from Downers Grove, IlThis song was featured in the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus" as well.
  • Starkulfr from London, EnglandI can remember the ending, with the Au Pair staring out across the Channel. If I'm correct Sea Hunt was on around the same time.
    Please note, there is no such thing as the UK Royal Army.
  • Paul from London, EnglandThe TV show was about some kids falling in with a new kid who comes to their area. They live in Brighton, hence the title. As far as I recall there's something strange about the new boy (?), which was central to the drama.
    Anybody know more?
    The theme was haunting even from the first time it was played in the four-part series.
  • Mike from Swansea, EnglandJust seen this music played in the movie "The Majestic" with Jim Carey , the movie is meant to be set in 1952 !
  • Carmel from Sydney, AustraliaI haven't heard of this music until my best friend, Lito Mizal, mentioned it to me. I checked out the web for the music and I found it really enchanting.

  • Deek from Livingston, TxGinger Baker,later of Cream fame,played drums on it.
  • Rodney from Baltimore, MdI believe the song was an instrumental.
  • Doreen from Sussex, NjI would like to get the lyrics to this song, Stranger on the Shore, please tell me where to go for the lyrics, Thank You Doreen Paddock
  • Paul from Tulsa, OkHe was the first Englishman to have a number one song in the US.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Chris Fehn of SlipknotSongwriter Interviews

A drummer for one of the most successful metal bands of the last decade, Chris talks about what it's like writing and performing with Slipknot. Metal-neck is a factor.

Colbie CaillatSongwriter Interviews

Since emerging from MySpace with her hit "Bubbly," Colbie has become a top songwriter, even crafting a hit with Taylor Swift.

Maria MuldaurSongwriter Interviews

The "Midnight At The Oasis" singer is an Old Time gal. She talks about her jug band beginnings and shares a Dylan story.

David Bowie Lyrics QuizMusic Quiz

How well do you know your David Bowie lyrics? Take this quiz to find out.

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New YorkSong Writing

Can you be married in one country but not another? Only if you're part of a gay couple. One of the first famous singers to come out as a lesbian, Janis wrote a song about it.