Bilk, (Mr.) Acker (Bernard Stanley)

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Bilk, (Mr.) Acker (Bernard Stanley)

Bilk, (Mr.) Acker (Bernard Stanley), jazz clarinetist; b. Pensford, Somerset, England, Jan. 29, 1929. He played piano as a child but took up clarinet while serving in Egypt with the Royal Engineers (1948). He soon formed his own band in Bristol. In 1954, he played with Ken Colyer in London, then continued to lead his Paramount Jazz Band in Bristol area; the band also toured Poland (summer 1956). The band, with personnel changes, played a residency in London (summer 1957) and became fully professional in October 1957; soon afterwards, they played dates in Düsseldorf, Germany. Having debuted in early 1960 with the bluesy album Summer Set, he became one of the most successful artists of the traditional jazz boom. The album Stranger on the Shore spent 55 weeks in the U.K. chart and topped the U.S. listing. He was thrilled when Duke Ellington recorded “Stranger on the Shore” (1964). Album success followed in the company of Chris Barber and Kenny Ball. His band toured internationally, including Germany, Australia, Kuala Lumpur, and France. He maintained his reputation with cabaret and TV appearances, and returned to the charts with mid-1970s albums Aria and Sheer Magic. The band’s wide-ranging schedule continued through the 1990s. Bilk also played a series of duo dates with Humphrey Lyttelton (1993–94).


Summer Set (1960); Stranger on the Shore (1961); Expo 70 (1970); Regal Starline (1970); Pye (1972). S. Tracey: We Love You Madly (1968).


L., Peter, P. Gwynn-Jones, The Book of Bilk, Or 41 Characters in Search of an Acker (London, 1963); G. Williams, Acker Bilk (London, 1962).

—Music Master Jazz and Blues Catalogue/John Chilton Who’s Who of British Jazz