Acker Bilt

Stranger on the Shore
#1 in 1962


Bernard Stanley "Acker" Bilk was born January 28, 1929, in Pensford, Somerset, England. He is known for his trademark goatee, bowler hat, striped waistcoat and his breathy, vibrato-rich, lower-register clarinet style. Bilk earned the nickname Acker from the Somerset slang for 'friend' or 'mate'. He lost two front teeth in a school fight and half a finger in a sledging accident, both of which Bilk has claimed to have affected his eventual clarinet style. He learned the clarinet while serving in the Royal Engineers in the Suez Canal Zone after his sapper friend John A. Britten gave him a clarinet that he had bought at a bazaar and had no use for. The clarinet had no reed and Britten fashioned a makeshift reed for the instrument out of some scrap wood, and by the mid-1950s he was playing professionally. Acker Bilk continues to tour with his Paramount Jazz Band, as well as performing concerts with his two contemporaries, Chris Barber and Kenny Ball (both of whom were born in 1930) as the 3B's.
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