Born Bernard Stanley Bilk, 28 January 1929, Pensford, Somerset, England. A self-taught clarinettist, Bilk made his first public appearance in 1947 while on National Service in Egypt. On his return to the UK, he played as a semi-professional around the Bristol area, before gaining his big break with the Ken Colyer band in 1954. Four years later, under the name "Mr" Acker Bilk, he enjoyed his first UK Top 10 hit with "Summer Set". Backed by the Paramount Jazz Band, and promoted by his Bilk Marketing Board, he was at the forefront of the British traditional jazz boom of the early 60s. With their distinctive uniform of bowler hats and striped waistcoats, Bilk and company enjoyed a number of jazzy UK hits in the 60s, including "White Cliffs Of Dover", "Buona Sera", "That's My Home", "Stars And Stripes Forever", "Frankie And Johnny", "Gotta See Baby Tonight", and "A Taste Of Honey". However, it was with the Leon Young String Chorale that Bilk achieved his most remarkable hit. "Stranger On The Shore" was a US number 1 in May 1962, and peaked at number 2 in the UK, staying for a record-breaking 55 weeks in the bestsellers. Although the beat boom all but ended the careers of many traditional jazzmen, Bilk has continued to enjoy a successful career in cabaret and concerts, and returned to the Top 10 in 1976, again with a string backing, with "Aria". He continues to tour regularly alongside contemporaries such as Kenny Ball and Chris Barber. The trio had a number 1 album, The Best Of Ball, Barber And Bilk, in 1962. Bilk remains a major figure in traditional jazz, and more than 30 years after "Stranger On The Shore" gained an Ivor Novello Award for "Most Performed Work".
Mr. Acker Requests (Pye 1958)***, Mr. Acker Marches On (Pye 1958)***, Mr. Acker Bilk Sings (Pye 1959)**, Mr. Acker Bilk Requests (Part One) (Pye 1959)***, Mr. Acker Bilk Requests (Part Two) (Pye 1959)***, The Noble Art Of Mr. Acker Bilk (Pye 1959)***, Seven Ages Of Acker (Columbia 1960)****, Mr. Acker Bilk's Omnibus (Pye 1960)***, Acker (Columbia 1960)***, A Golden Treasury Of Bilk (Columbia 1961)****, Mr. Acker Bilk's Lansdowne Folio (Columbia 1961)***, Stranger On The Shore (Columbia 1961)****, Above The Stars And Other Romantic Fancies (Columbia 1962)***, A Taste Of Honey (Columbia 1963)****, Great Themes From Great European Movies (Columbia 1965)**, Acker In Paris (Columbia 1966)***, with the Stan Tracey Big Brass Blue Acker (Columbia 1968)****, with the Stan Tracey Strings Horn Of Plenty (Columbia 1971)***, Some Of My Favourite Things (PRT 1973)***, That's My Desire (PRT 1974)***, Serenade (PRT 1975)***, The One For Me (PRT 1976)***, Invitation (PRT 1977)***, Meanwhile (PRT 1977)***, Sheer Magic (Warwick 1977)***, Extremely Live In Studio 1 (PRT 1978)**, Free (PRT 1978)***, When The Lights Are Low (PRT 1978)***, with Max Bygraves Twogether (Piccadilly 1980)**, Unissued Acker (PRT 1980)***, Made In Hungary (PRT 1980)***, The Moment I'm With You (PRT 1980)***, Mama Told Me So (PRT 1980)***, Relaxin' (PRT 1981)***, Wereldsuccessen (Philips 1982)***, I Think The Best Thing About This Record Is The Music (Bell 1982)**, Acker Bilk In Holland (Timeless 1985)**, Nature Boy (PRT 1985)***, Acker's Choice (Teldec 1985)***, John, Paul And Acker (PRT 1986)**, Love Songs My Way (Topline 1987)**, On Stage (Start 1988)***, with Ken Colyer It Looks Like A Big Time Tonight (Stomp Off 1988)***, That's My Home (Pickwick 1988)***, The Love Album (Pickwick 1989)***, Imagine (Pulse 1991)**, Blaze Away (Timeless 1990)****, Heartbeats (Pickwick 1991)***, with Humphrey Lyttelton At Sundown (Calligraph 1992)****, with Lyttelton Three In The Morning (Calligraph 1995)****, Chalumeau That's My Home (Apricot 1995)****, Oscar Winners (Carlton 1995)**.
The Best Of Ball, Barber And Bilk (Pye 1962)****, Golden Hour Of Acker Bilk (Knight 1974)****, Evergreen (Warwick 1978)***, The Acker Bilk Saga (Polydor 1979)***, Spotlight On Acker Bilk (PRT 1980)***, 100 Minutes Of Bilk (PRT 1982)****, Spotlight On Acker Bilk Vol. 2 (PRT 1982)***, I'm In The Mood For Love (Philips 1983)***, Finest Moments (Castle 1986)***, Magic Clarinet Of Acker Bilk (K-Tel 1986)***, 16 Golden Memories (Spectrum 1988)***, Best Of Acker Bilk His Clarinet And Strings (PRT 1988)***, Hits Blues And Classics (Kaz 1988)***, The Collection (Castle 1989)***, Images (Knight 1989)***, After Midnight (Pickwick 1990)***, In A Mellow Mood (Castle 1992)***, Reflections (Spectrum 1993)***, Acker Bilk Songbook (Tring 1993)***, Bridge Over Troubled Water (Spectrum 1995)**, All The Hits Plus More (Prestige 1997)***, Mr. Acker Bilk And His Paramount Jazz Band (Castle 2001)****.
The Book Of Bilk, Peter Leslie and Patrick Gwynn-Jones. Acker Bilk, Gordon Williams.
It's Trad, Dad! (1962), It's All Over Town (1964).
More Of The Best
Some Of The Best
The Very Best Of Mr. Acker Bilk
Acker Bilk & His Orchestra
Music & Romance (Import-Holland)
The Frankfurt Concert
In A Mellow Mood
All The Hits Plus More
Dressed To Kill - (import)
Sweet Georgia Brown
Traditional Line (Import)
At The Movies *
Best Of...His Clarinet & Strings
Best Of Acker Bilk, Vol II [Cassette]
Golden Instrumental Hits
Plays Lennon & McCartney
Some Of My Favorite Things
The Magic Clarinet Of Acker Bilk
Source: Encyclopedia of Popular Music