Iconic jazz clarinettist Acker Bilk dies aged 85
- Credit: PA
Jazz singer and clarinettist Acker Bilk has died at the age of 85, his manager said today.
The performer, who lived in Pensford, Somerset, died this afternoon at Bath's Royal United Hospital, Pamela Sutton said.
The musician, known for performing in a garish waistcoat and bowler hat, was the first UK act to top the US charts in the 1960s.
Mrs Sutton paid tribute to a man she had known for 45 years, saying: 'He was a brilliant musician.
'He had a great sense of humour in every way. He just loved life.'
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She said that he died around 2pm with his wife Jean by his side, saying that 'age caught up with him'.
Alan Thompson, of North Walsham, worked with Bilk as associate producer and researcher on six editions of Acker's Aweigh for Radio 2 in 1991.
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He said: 'Acker put his stamp on everything he did. He loved the music and there was just no-one like him.
'He was a true professional and never got flustered, even when we were pressured for time. He was relaxed, that's what he was like all the time.
'I was very sorry to hear about the news.'
Bilk, who was made an MBE in the New Year Honours List of 2001, had previously overcome throat cancer.
He was best known for his laid back signature tune Stranger On The Shore.
Born Bernard Stanley Bilk and raised in Somerset, he soon took the name Acker - a local expression meaning 'friend' or 'mate'.
Fans expressed their sadness after learning of his death.
George Freeman, the Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk, tweeted: 'Sad to hear of the death of Acker Bilk £JazzGenius - happy memories of going to hear him play my first week at University.'
What are you favourite memories of Acker Bilk? Tweet us at @EDP24