Stranger on the Shore

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the musical piece. For the BBC television series, see Stranger on the Shore (TV serial).
"Stranger on the Shore"
Single by Mr. Acker Bilk and the Leon Young String Chorale
B-side "Take My Lips"
Released October 1961
Format 7" 45rpm
Genre Easy listening
Length 2:52
Label Columbia Records DB4750 (UK)
Atco Records 45-6217 (US)
Writer(s) Acker Bilk, Robert Mellin
Producer(s) Dennis Preston
Mr. Acker Bilk and the Leon Young String Chorale singles chronology
"Stars and Stripes Forever/Creole Jazz"
"Stranger on the Shore"
"Frankie and Johnny"

"Stranger on the Shore" is a piece for clarinet written by Acker Bilk for his young daughter and originally named "Jenny" after her.[1] It was subsequently used as the theme tune of a BBC TV drama serial for young people, Stranger on the Shore.[2] It was first released in 1961 in the UK, and then in the US, and reached number 1 in the US and number 2 in the UK.[3]

In May 1969, the crew of Apollo 10 took "Stranger on the Shore" on their mission to the moon. Gene Cernan, a member of the crew, included the tune on a cassette tape used in the command module of the Apollo spacecraft.

Chart and sales performance[edit]

The track, performed by Bilk (as "Mr. Acker Bilk") with backing by the Leon Young String Chorale, was released as a single on Columbia Records DB 4750 in October 1961, with the label of the single openly proclaiming "Theme from the BBC TV. Series". The B-side was "Take My Lips". The single became a phenomenal success, topping the NME singles chart and spending nearly a year on the Record Retailer Top 50. It was the UK's biggest-selling single of 1962,[4] the biggest-selling instrumental single of all time, and appears fifty-eighth in the official UK list of best-selling singles issued in 2002. it has sold 1.16 million copies as of November 2012.[5] One of songwriter and music publisher Robert Mellin's major songwriting success came in 1962, when he wrote lyrics for Acker Bilk's instrumental smash "Stranger on the Shore," allowing it to be covered by vocal acts like Andy Williams and the Drifters.

On 26 May 1962, "Stranger on the Shore" became the first British recording to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 where it was issued by Atlantic Records on the Atco label, but it was quickly followed, on 22 December, by the Tornados' "Telstar", another instrumental. In the pre-rock era, Vera Lynn's "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" had reached #1 in 1952, on the shorter "Best Sellers In Stores" survey. After "Telstar", the next British performers to top the U.S. charts were the Beatles, with their first Capitol Records single "I Want to Hold Your Hand". "Stranger on the Shore" was Billboard's #1 single of 1962, and it spent seven weeks atop the "Easy Listening" chart, which later became known as the Adult Contemporary chart.[6] The tune became the second of three "one-hit wonders" named "pop single of the year" by Billboard (the others being 1958's "Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)" by Domenico Modugno and 2006's "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter.

The song is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.[7]

Cover versions[edit]

The composition has been covered by many other artists, most prominently a vocal version by Andy Williams, whose version reached #9 on the adult contemporary chart, #30 in the UK, and #38 on the Billboard Hot 100,[8] a group vocal version by the Drifters, whose version reached #19 on the adult contemporary chart and #73 on the Billboard Hot 100,[9] and a soprano sax smooth jazz adaptation by Kenny G. It was also sampled (with a writer's credit for Bilk) on "A Melody From a Past Life Keeps Pulling Me Back" by the KLF on their album Chill Out, and on the track "Music For Libraries" by Way Out West. Ruby & the Romantics recorded a vocal cover version for their 1963 "Our Day Will Come" album .

Use in soundtracks and media[edit]

The song was used in the 1998 TV-movie "The '60s" during an early school dance scene.

The song was also featured in the soundtrack to Mr. Holland's Opus, as well as in the 1988 film, Red Heat, the 1998 romantic comedy There's Something About Mary and incorrectly in the 2001 movie The Majestic (anachronism, as that movie is set 6 to 7 years prior to this song's release).

The song was playing in the scene in the 2008 Season 2 finale of Mad Men when Betty Draper was having a drink in a bar.

The song is used as the theme tune to BBC Radio 4 sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Sound. It was also played by Karl Pilkington on his phone while riding a camel across the desert and on his MP3 player when he is buried alive in Russia on an episode of An Idiot Abroad.

The song is also used as background music in Epcot's World Showcase at the Walt Disney World resort.


Chart (1962) Peak
United Kingdom (Record Retailer) 2[10][11][12]
United Kingdom (NME) 1[13]
United Kingdom (Record Mirror) 1[14]
Preceded by
"Soldier Boy" by The Shirelles
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
26 May 1962 (one week)
Succeeded by
"I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles
Preceded by
"Don't Break the Heart That Loves You" by Connie Francis
"Billboard" Easy Listening number-one single by Mr. Acker Bilk
21 April 1962
(seven weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles


  1. ^ Wade, Anne. "Stranger On The Shore by Mr. Acker Bilk". Songfacts. Retrieved 2009-05-29. "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." 
  2. ^ Stranger On The Shore | A Television Heaven Review
  3. ^ Mr. Acker Bilk, "Stranger on the Shore" chart positions Retrieved 9 June 2013
  4. ^ "Stranger On The Shore notes". United Kingdom: Retrieved 2009-05-29. "The biggest-selling single of 1962." 
  5. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 33. 
  7. ^ "American certifications – Mr. Acker Bilk – Stranger on the Shore". Recording Industry Association of America. 
  8. ^ Andy Williams, "Stranger on the Shore" chart positions Retrieved 9 June 2013
  9. ^ The Drifters, "Stranger on the Shore" chart positions Retrieved 9 June 2013
  10. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive: 13th January 1962". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive: 20th January 1962". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive: 27th January 1962". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  13. ^ Rees, Dafydd; Lazell, Barry; Osborne, Roger (1995). Forty Years of "NME" Charts (2nd ed.). Pan Macmillan. p. 109. ISBN 0-7522-0829-2. 
  14. ^ Smith, Alan. "Every No.1 in the 1960s is listed from all the nine different magazine charts!". Dave McAleer's website. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 

External links[edit]