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Stranger On The Shore star Acker Bilk dies aged 85

By David Wilcock

Jazz singer and clarinettist Acker Bilk has died at the age of 85.

The performer, who lived in Pensford, Somerset, died yesterday afternoon at Bath's Royal United Hospital, his manager 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."

She said that he died at around 2pm with his wife Jean by his side, saying that "age caught up with him".

He had previously overcome throat cancer.

Bilk 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".

Poet Ian McMillan tweeted: "Goodbye Acker Bilk, creator of one of the great earworms. That shore was strange, but memorable."

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