The “Golden Hits Of The 60s 

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(ACKER BILK)    Atco 6217

No. 1    May 26, 1962





Mother was  a church organist; Father was a Methodist preacher.  And son Bernard Stanley Bilk (b. Jan. 28,

1929, Somerset, Avon, England) was serving three months in a brig in Egypt for sleeping on guard duty

when he first discovered his love for the clarinet.  “Acker” (slang for “buddy” or “mate”) was just 18 then,

and started playing to while away the sweltering evenings.  After his army discharge, Bilk labored in  a

tobacco factory in Bristol, then worked as a builder’s laborer and a blacksmith.  The job was tough and

dirty; a musician’s life, he soon  realized, might be a mite less demanding.


After a stay with Ken Colyer’s  jazz  band, Acker formed his own Paramount Jazz Band  in 1958.  Two

years later, Denis Preston, an  independent producer, spotted Bilk, his ever-present bowler hat, and

that trad-jazz band of his.  Prior to his monster moment, Bilk and the band almost connected with their

quiet, bluesy number, “Summer Set.”   Two years and a few more near-hits later, “Stranger On The Shore”



“Stranger”–recorded with the aid of the Loen Young String Chorale–was a tame instrumental, not

a rock and roll record, and its staggering chart success took everyone in popdom by surprise. “Stranger”

remained on the British listings for a whopping 55 weeks, eventually selling 4,000,000 copies.  Bilk, at

this time, teamed with KENNY BALL and CHRIS BARBER for what proved a chart-topping album, The Best

Of Ball, Barber and Bilk.  Acker also had the distinction of preceding the Beatles and   the British

Invasion acts as the first British artist  to ever hit number one on Billboard‘s pop charts.


Mr. Bilk repeatedly regained status on the British charts with such works as “That’s My Home,” “Frankie

And Johnny” and in 1976, with “Aria.”   A continuing train of albums have been issued to moderate

European success.


Acker Bilk remains  an active musician.  In addition to touring extensively, he has appeared  in two  Royal

Command Performances (1978 and 1981) and has fronted his own British radio program, “Acker’s ‘Aif

Our,” on BBCs Radio 2.


In 1995, “Stranger On The Shore” received the lvor Novello Award for “Most Performed Work.”