Acker Bilk (born 1929) was born Bernard Stanley Bilk in the West Country - his nickname 'Acker' came from the region's slang for 'mate'. He played clarinet with the Royal Engineers while stationed in Egypt in 1948 and then formed a band in Bristol following national service. He moved to London to join Ken Colyer in 1954 but returned to Somerset in the same year forming the Paramount Jazz Band. Honing their skills in the late 1950s with much touring and recording, it was in 1961 he recorded the track which would propel him to international stardom 'Strangers On The Shore'. Composed for a television series of the same name, this became the first recording to be a number one on both sides of the Atlantic. The success was not a one-off and in all, Bilk scored 11 top 50 singles. This was reflected in widespread international touring which continues to this day. In recent years, Bilk has frequently performed in triple bill concerts with fellow 'trad jazz' stars Chris Barber and Kenny Ball. In 2001, Bilk received an MBE for services to the music industry and in 2005 won the BBC Jazz 'Gold Award'.
Find Out More
The Original Jazz Recordings 1954-1957 (Smith&Co 2008)
Acker Bilk In Holland (Timeless 1983)
Together Again – with Ken Colyer (Lake 1995)