Trad jazz legend Acker Bilk dies at 85

Jazz Clarinettist Acker Bilk MBE famous for the hit 'Stranger On The Shore' has died after a long illness.

Jazz Clarinettist Acker Bilk MBE has died after a long illness, aged 85.

Born in the West Country, Bilk was synonymous with the huge British trad jazz movement of the 1950s. He learned to play the clarinet in the military after switching from the piano that his parents were keen for him to learn as a boy. Before he became a musician he worked in the Bristol Wills Tobacco factory for £1.4 shillings a week. 

In 1962 Bilk had a British hit single with a an instrumental song ‘Stranger on the Shore’, a piece of music written for and originally named after his young daughter Jenny.

The name ‘Acker’ was a nickname derived from Somerset slang meaning friend, or mate. He would usually be seen in striped or elaborate waistcoats, signature bowler hat and goatee beard. He was awarded an MBE in 2001 and had been suffering from throat cancer since 2000.

The Parliamentary Jazz Awards in 2012 gave Acker the Lifetime Achievements Award to add to his BBC Jazz Award and Honorary MA from the University of Bristol. 

He leaves his wife Jean, son Pete and daughter Jenny.

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