Billboard #1 Hits- #71. “Stranger On The Shore”- Mr. Acker Bilk. May 26, 1962. #1 for 1 week. Released on Atco Records. Written by Mr. Acker Bilk. Genre: Easy Listening. Time: 2:52. B-side:”Clelito Lindo”: Grade: C
“Stranger On The Shore” an instrumental by clarinettist and vocalist Acker Bilk- born Bernard Stanley Bilk in Pensford Somerset, England was a history making single in the United States- it was the first #1 hit in the modern era in the United States by a British artist. In his homeland- “Stranger On The Shore” was the #1 hit of 1962 on the UK Singles Chart and the biggest instrumental ever on the UK chart. “Stranger On The Shore” was written for Bilk’s daughter and he originally named the tune after her “Jenny.” I don’t think I had ever heard this before- if I had it certainly didn’t stick out. Vocal versions of the song also made the Hot 100- Andy Williams #38 and The Drifters #73- both of those in 1962 also.
On Apollo 10’s mission to the Moon- astronaut Gene Cernan included the tune on a cassette tape they played in the command module. Some trivia to tell your friends- on Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan would be the last man to walk on the Moon.
Acker- Bilk’s nickname came from the Somerset slang meaning ‘friend’ or ‘mate.’ Mr. Acker Bilk would qualify as a one hit wonder in the United States-while he had 4 singles make the Hot 100 in 1962-1963- “Stranger On The Shore” was his only Top 40 hit- and he made the most of it with a #1. In 2012 Bilk near the end of his life said he was fed up with playing “Stranger On The Shore.” He died at the age of 85 in 2014.