Acker Bilk

  • Real Name: Bernard Bilk
  • Birth Date: 28th January 1929
  • Birth Place:Pensford Somerset
  • Acker Bilk taught himself to play the clarinet during his National Service, much of which he served in Egypt. Despite the deficiency of one finger which he lost in a childhood tobogganing accident- allegedly then eaten by a dog- he became an unusually skilled player within a few years.

    The Paramount Jazz Band were formed in the West Country and were little more than amateurs in Bristol when they were given their first chance to record. Traditional Jazz was slowly becoming popular when Acker and the band's piano player, Dave Collett, wrote the instrumental 'Summer Set'. This came at just the right time to pick up the public interest that Chris Barber had stimulated a few months earlier and the Paramount JazzBand were able to enjoy a string of singles hits throughout 1960 and 1961. It also led to a stream of releases by Pye of recordings that the band had made a year or so earlier. However, the record that was to make Acker Bilk internationally famous was not Jazz at all. It was a tune that he'd originally entitled 'Jenny' in honour of his baby daughter, but after its adoption as theme for a TV series it became known as 'Stranger On The Shore'. The record only reached #2 in the listings, although it easily outsold most of the #1s of the time for it remained in the UK chart for more than a year. Acker also recorded a version with lyrics sung by Michael London, an interesting variation but now hard to find on any medium.- (see Obscure Artists-M).

    Sleeve of SEG8156
    The EP shown on the left (SEG8156) was the most successful of Acker's on that format to be released on the Columbia label. It contained all four of what were to be his only top 10 UK hits and therefore has to be looked upon as somewhat of a bargain. It portrays Acker in his trademark attire of bowler hat and striped waistcoat, possibly preparing to play his great masterpiece, "Stranger On The Shore".
    Jazz sometimes suffers from elitism and Acker was criticised for recording 'non-jazz' with strings. However, as he pointed out- those that go to his concerts to hear him play have to listen to Jazz. Traditional Jazz remained popular with 45-rpm buyers for only the first half of the 1960s though the bands that played it remained popular stage and club acts. Acker's unit was no different and remains on the Traditional Jazz scene, sometimes in the company of his former rivals- Ball and Barber, occasionally playing with veteran blues singer George Melly. He still plays his remarkable 'Stranger On The Shore'- the tune he now calls his 'old age pension'.

    1950s & 1960s 45rpm UK Discography

    • This list includes UK 45 singles releases only
    • See list below for EP releases
    • Collector's Items are shown In Red

    Pye 7NJ2029 1960 Marching Through Georgia/ Delia Gone  
    Pye 7NJ2033 1960 CRE March (Wings)/ Willie The Weeper  
    Pye 7NJ2034 1960 Blaze Away/ Higher Ground  
    Pye 7NJ2035 1960 Under The Double Eagle/ Easter Parade  
    Pye 7NJ2036 1960 El Banico/ Carry Me Back  
    Pye 7NJ2037 1960 Jump The Line/ Dardenella  
    Pye 7NJ2038 1960 Gladiolus Rag/ Liousian-I-Ay  
    Columbia DB4382 1959 Summer Set/ Acker's Away #5 
    Columbia DB4492 1960 White Cliffs Of Dover/ Fancy Pants #30
    Melodisc MEL1547 1960 Goodnight Sweet Prince/ East Coast Trot #50 
    Columbia DB4544 1960 Buona Sera/ Corinne Corrina #7
    Columbia DB4620 1961 Sweet Elizabeth/ Pretty Boy  
    Columbia DB4673 1961 That's My Home/ My Bucket's Got A Hole In It #7
    Columbia DB4750 1961 Stranger On The Shore/ Take My Lips #2
    Columbia SCD2155 1961 Stars And Stripes Forever/ Creole Jazz #22
    Columbia SCD2176 1962 Gotta See Baby Tonight/ If You Were The Only Girl In The World #24
    Columbia DB4795 1962 Frankie And Johnny/ In A Persian Market #42
    Columbia DB4897 1962 Lonely/ Acker's Lacquer #14
    Columbia DB4949 1962 A Taste Of Honey/ Evening Shadows #16
    Columbia DB4999 1963 Manana Pasado Manana/ Trinidad Dad  
    Columbia DB7058 1963 Bitter Harvest/ Moonlight Tango  
    Columbia DB7129 1963 The Harem/ Train Song  
    Columbia DB7260 1964 Never Love A Stranger/ Bustamento  
    Columbia DB7380 1964 Dream Ska/ Always  
    Columbia DB7543 1965 Mona Lisa/ Blueberry Hill  
    Columbia DB7854 1966 Petite Fleur/ Claudette  
    Columbia DB8036 1966 La Playa/ When You Are There  
    Columbia DB8193 1967 Girl With The Sun In Her Hair/ Tambor  
    Columbia DB8241 1967 Tarzan's March/ Acker's Personal Jungle  
    Columbia DB8537 1969 When I'm Away/ Try A Little Tenderness  

    EP Discography

    • Stereophonic Versions have Cat. No. in parentheses
    • Collector's Items are shown In Red
    • See Upper List For Singles releases

    Pye NJE1061 1958 "Mr. Acker Bilk Marches On" #12
    Blaze Away/Under The Double Eagle/El Abanico/C.R.E March
    Pye NJE1067 1958 "Mr. Acker Bilk Sings" #15
    Carry Me Back/Jump The Line/Louisian-i-ay/Higher Ground
    Pye NJE1070  1958 "Mr. Acker Bilk Requests"  
    Travelling Blues/Delia Gone/Gladiola Rag/Willy the Weeper.
    Pye NJE1072 1958 "Mr Acker Bilk Requests Part.2" #11
    Dardanella/Franklin Street Blues/Easter Parade/Marching Through Georgia
    Esquire EP213 1959 "Master Acker Bilk"  
    Gettysburg Stomp/Over In Gloryland/Gravier Street Blues/My Old Kentucky Home
    Columbia SEG7940 1960 "Ackers Away" #16
    Ackers Away/Blues For Jimmy Side/Lastic/East Coast Trot
    Melodisc EPM7-93 1960 "Mr. Acker Bilk & His Paramount Jazz Band Vol.1"  
    All the Girls (Like the Way I Walk)/Franklin Street Blues/Bye & Bye/St Phillip Street Breakdown
    Melodisc EPM7-94 1960 "Mr. Acker Bilk & His Paramount Jazz Band Vol.2"  
    Breeze /Travelling Blues / East Coast Trot / Goodnight Sweet Prince
    Melodisc EPM7-101 1960 "Mr. Acker Bilk & His Paramount Jazz Band Vol.3"  
    Gladious Rag / Careless Love / Darkness on the Delta ( Take #2 ) / Swing Low Sweet Chariot
    Columbia SEG8029 1960 "Seven Ages Of Acker Vol.1" #6
    Orys Creole Trombone/Tiger Rag/In A Persian Market/I'm Going Home
    Melodisc EPM7-106 1961 "Acker Bilk"  
    King Joe/Postman's Lament/Shine/ ?
    Melodisc EPM7-116 1961? "Bob Wallis Meets Mr.Acker Bilk At The New Orleans Jam Session"  
    Do What Ory Say/In Gloryland/Running Wild
    Columbia SEG8053 1961 "Clarinet Jamboree" (with Terry Lightfoot) #19
    Boodle Am Shake/My Journey To The Sky/Hiawatha Rag/A Rovin'
    Columbia SEG8076 1961 "Seven Ages Of Acker Vol.2" #9
    Old Comrades March/Let The Light From The Lighthouse Shine/Cushion Foot Stomp/Berliner Luft March (Gay Hussar)
    Columbia SEG8089 1962 "Acker Vol.1" #6
    Snake Rag/Fancy Pants/Original Dixieland One-Step/Goodnight/Sweet Prince
    Columbia SEG8102 (ESG7857) 1962 "Acker Vol.2" #11
    There's A Rainbow Round My Shoulder/2.19 Blues/Lazy River/Milenburg Joys
    Columbia SEG8139 1962 "A Golden Treasury Of Bilk"  
    Should I?/Snag It/Corrine Corrina/Coming For To Carry Me Home
    Columbia SEG8156 1962 "4 Hits And A Mister" #2
    Buona Sera/Summer Set/That's My Home/Stranger On The Shore Theme
    Columbia SEG8173 1962 "A Golden Treasury Of Bilk No.2"  
    New Orleans Stomp/Pretty Boy/Gatemouth Blues/Who Rolled That Stone Away?
    Columbia SEG8178 1962 "Band Of Thieves" #6
    Band Of Thieves/Coffe And Ackercake/All I Want To Do Is Sing/Lonely/Behind The Bars/Smoochy
    SEG8245 1962 "Bilk And Bossa" (With Leon Young's Brazilians)  
    SEG8266 1963 "Four More Hits And A Mister"  
    A Taste Of Honey/Fancy Pants/Above The Stars/Lonely
    SEG8281 1963  "Manana"  
    Manana/Home/Gotta See Baby Tonight/If You Were The Only Girl In The World

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