The song “Stranger on the Shore” evokes fond memories of early summer 1962 when the single was released in the US and it quickly became a #1 record. In fact, it was only the second time a British artist had a number one record on this side of the Atlantic, and it had been ten years since Vera Lynn’s hit. “Stranger on the Shore” was certainly not the last record by a Brit to reach the top of the charts, and two years later it was quite a common occurrence.
Billboard named “Stranger on the Shore” as 1962’s record of the year; it was certified gold for selling in excess of a million copies. The keynote instrument is Acker Bilk’s clarinet. Bilk’s interest in this member of the woodwind family was spawned a friend’s gift of a rather rough, second-hand instrument. Having no reed, the friend fashioned one from a piece of wood. Acker Bilk later procured a better instrument and the rest is history.
Although billed as Mr. Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band, it doesn’t appear that the band was present on this recording. The backing instrumentation was provided by the Leon Young String Chorale. Both Bilk and Young were credited with writing the tune. Later, publisher Robert Mellin added lyrics to this already charming instrumental and vocalists could tackle “Stranger on the Shore.”