Acker Bilk, 85, dies after lengthy illness

Mr Bilk was a clarinetist, whose few popular sellers were shown again and again in trailers for movies. His “sound” was unusual and seemed to be derived from that of Sydney Bechet, who was a great player, and made a number of recordings, playing both clarinet and soprano saxophone. His influence was felt by Bob Wilber, who performed frequently in clubs in Boston reminding me of the many times I heard him at Storyville and other clubs in the area

Bilks most famous song Stranger on the Shore was the UK’s biggest selling single of 1962 and made him an international star.

Born Bernard Stanley Bilk, he changed his name to Acker – Somerset slang for “mate” – after learning to play the clarinet in the Army.

His last concert was in August 2013.

Pamela Sutton, who was Bilk’s manager for 45 years, said he had “been ill for some time”, adding: “He was my great friend and his music was legendary.”

Stranger on the Shore was the UK’s biggest selling song of 1962
Born in Pensford in Somerset, Bilk tried a number of different careers before borrowing a clarinet and copying recordings of famous jazz musicians while in the Army.

He formed his first band in Bristol after his demobilisation.

Known for his goatee, bowler hat and fancy waistcoat, Bilk was awarded an MBE in 2001 for services to the music industry.

He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2000 but recovered and continued to play concerts, the last of which was at the Brecon Festival last year.

US number one
Bilk told the BBC in a 2012 interview that when he wrote his biggest hit Stranger on the Shore, he did not immediately realise it was special.

The instrumental made him the first artist to have a simultaneous chart-topping hit in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

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