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Acker Bilk

Acker Bilk (often referred to as Mr Acker Bilk) is one of the world's leading Jazz Clarinetists. His trademarks are his goatee beard, bowler hat and striped waistcoat.

Born Bernard Stanley Bilk, in Pensford, Somerset South West England, on 28 January 1929, he obtained the stage name Acker from the Somerset slang or dialect term for friend or 'mate'.

During his upbringing in Pensford, his parents attempted to have him taught to play the piano, but this was found by him to be to be too restricting of his desire for outdoor pursuits, which included soccer.

Two front teeth lost in a school fight and half a finger (see Django Reinhardt another influential musician whose dexterity seemed unimpaired by finger-damage) lost in a sledging accident have had a significant influence over Bilk's style of playing (at least according to Bilk himself).

He became a household name during the early 1960s with a massive number one hit record, the plaintive Stranger on the Shore, theme tune from a contemporary television serial.

He has been described as Great Master of the Clarinet in this lengthy article