Acker Bilk is most known for his song “Stranger on the Shore.” At The Beatles‘ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger decided to call out the song as an example of bad English pop music. Notably, Bilk had strong feelings about the song the more he had to play it.
The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger felt The Beatles were so different from Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger on the Shore’
Jagger inducted The Beatles into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. During his speech, he said British pop music wasn’t always good. “When I got here tonight, I saw George [Harrison] and he said, ‘You aren’t going to say anything bad about me are you?’” Jagger revealed. “I couldn’t think of anything, really — on the spur of the moment — bad to say about — because in England during those very early days, just while The Beatles were recording their first songs, it was a real wasteland.”
Jagger started criticizing particular artists during his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame speech. “England had nothing really to offer as far as pop music was concerned,” he said. “The big hits here that came from England were things like Acker Bilk, ‘Stranger on the Shore.’ This is what they thought of in England. ‘A Midnight in Moscow’ by Kenny Ball — now we all remember that one.”
“Stranger on the Shore” is a jazz instrumental. It’s Bilk’s most famous song. He grew tired of “Stranger on the Shore.” “I’m fed up with playing it,” he told BBC News in 2012. “It’s alright but you do get fed up with it after 50 years.”
The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger reacted to ‘Stranger on the Shore’ differently from how the public did
Regardless of Bilk’s feelings, “Stranger on the Shore” was a massive hit. According to The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, “Stranger on the Shore” was the first British song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it topped the chart in 1962. For context, the Billboard Hot 100 debuted in 1958. “Stranger on the Shore” was No. 1 for one week.
“Stranger on the Shore” became popular in the U.K. too. According to The Official Charts Company, the song reached No. 2 there. While Bilk made chart history by having a No. 1 hit in the U.S., he never had a No. 1 hit in the U.K.
The legacy of Acker Bilk’s biggest song
“Stranger on the Shore” had a legacy outside of its time on the charts. It became the theme song for the television show of the same name. In addition, artists such as Andy Williams, The Drifters, Kenny G, and Ruby & the Romantics covered “Stranger on the Shore.” Bilk’s version was also arguably a forerunner to The British Invasion. Regardless of what Jagger said at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, “Stranger on the Shore” remains a classic jazz instrumental.