Acker Bilk, Jazz Clarinetist Great, Dies At 85

Jazz legend Acker Bilk passed away at age 85 after a long illness. Acker stopped touring in 2013 after over 50 years of jazz hits and instrumental genius in jazz music. A clarinetist, Bilk is most known for “Stranger on the Shore” and “Buona Sera,” selling millions of records throughout the span of his active career.

When referring to his hit song, “Stranger on the Shore,” Bilk said, “It was just a thing that came out of my head, that’s all. I didn’t sort of work on it or do much at all with it.”

As it turned out, “Stranger on the Shore” was on the charts for over 50 weeks in 1962. Bilk was known as part of the British Jazz Boom and was respected for decades as a performer.

Although it was his hit, the musician expressed he was fed up with playing the song through the years. After decades of playing “Stranger on the Shore” for fans, he had grown somewhat tired of playing the tune. The song began as a dedication to his daughter, Jenny, and grew into the piece as it is known today.

Pamela Sutton, Bilk’s manager for over 45 years, announced that he passed away earlier today at Bath’s Royal United Hospital. Acker Bilk’s real name was Bernard Stanley Bilk, and he was born in Somerset on January 28, 1929. Living a full life of creative expression and a passion for music, Bilk taught himself how to play the clarinet in 1948 while serving in the Royal Engineers in Egypt as part of the military. He would later found his band, Paramount Jazz Band.

Bilk was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2000. He recovered and went onto play concerts until last year’s Brecon Festival.

Jazz is still alive and well today, with greats such as Bilk paving the way for today’s artists and revivals. As the era of jazz seems to be more and more in the past, it’s important to remember the jazz legends as they get older and pass away. Over the summer, Lionel Ferbos died at over 100 years old in New Orleans. Most recently, the Inquisitr reported on Lady Gaga creating a jazz album with Tony Bennett. It is meant to be a tribute to her roots as a formal musician, even though the pop star is not known for her jazz songs these days.

As a musician, Bilk set a standard for jazz and clarinet greats. He also had a fresh and fun fashion sense, defining his look with a bowler hat and goatee through the years. It is clear that Acker Bilk lived a full life, complete with a loving wife and two children who he leaves behind.

[Photo courtesy of Barratts/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive / ITV]