Song:Stranger On The Shore
Clarinetist Acker Bilk was a mainstay of the British traditional jazz scene for years. But in 1962 he made a brief detour and topped the pop charts with Stranger On The Shore. He was born Bernard Stanley Bilk Jan. 28, 1929 in Pensford, Somerset, England. The nickname Acker is Somerset slang for friend. He learned to play the clarinet while serving in the British Army in the Suez Canal. After he left, he worked as a blacksmith for his uncle. He got into music in the early 50s with Ken Colyer's band in London. He formed his own Paramount Jazz Band and played all over England. He signed with EMI's Columbia label and he had success on the British charts with the 1960 single Summer Set. Bilk wrote the song Jenny for his daughter. But he was asked to change the title so it could be used as the theme for the BBC TV series Stranger On The Shore. When the record became a hit in England, it was picked up by Atco in the US. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962. The record was produced by Columbia house producer Denis Preston and arranged and the orchestra conducted by Leon Young. In England it was the biggest selling single of 1962. Robert Mellin wrote lyrics for Stranger On The Shore and Andy Williams and The Drifters charted with that. Bilk recorded Stranger On The Shore many times. It looks like Universal owns the original version that you can get on this budget comp. Things didn't change much for Bilk because he knew the hit was a fluke and he didn't want to be a pop star. He continued to tour with his band and frequently played with other British traditional jazz musicians like Chris Barber and Kenny Ball. He also recorded on three Van Morrison albums. In 2012, he told the BBC that he was fed up with playing Stranger On The Shore but it's OK to be fed up with something after fifty years. Bilk and his wife retired to his home town of Pensford. Acker Bilk died on Nov. 2, 2014 at age 85. Here's Acker Bilk performing Stranger On The Shore 1988.