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Acker Bilk, British Clarinetist, Dies at 85

Had number one single with “Stranger on the Shore” in 1962

Acker Bilk

Acker Bilk, a British clarinetist and composer best known for his 1962 chart-topping single “Stranger on the Shore” (released under the name Mr. Acker Bilk), died Nov. 2 in Bath, Somerset, England, after a long illness. He was 85.

Born Bernard Stanley Bilk in Pensford, Somerset, on Jan. 28, 1929, the musicians took on the name Acker (British slang for mate) and took up the clarinet while serving in the army. Originally a pianist, he began playing professionally in Bristol in 1951, then moved to London to play with trumpeter Ken Colyer’s band. Bilk went out on his own in 1960, performing in the style the British called trad jazz-his goatee and bowler hats accentuated his ties to the older style of jazz.

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