Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" (June 2008 column)
A video of British jazz clarinetist Acker Bilk (b. 1929) performing his "Stranger on the Shore" has already accumulated an incredible 100,000 views. Though probably unfamiliar to many younger clarinetists, Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" reached number one on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1962 -- the first British single ever to achieve that feat. Used as the theme for a BBC TV drama of the same name, this memorable tune features Bilk's distinctive chalumeau sound and lyrical style. According to his website, Acker Bilk attributes his unique clarinet sound to having "lost two front teeth in a school punch-up, and half a finger in a sledging accident." Bilk continues to perform regularly, bringing his sound to a new generation of listeners.