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Jazz Clarinetist Acker Bilk Dies

BATH, UK (CelebrityAccess) — Sir Acker Bilk, the English clarinet player whose chart-topping 1962 hit "Stranger on the Shore" made him the first British artist to earn a #1 single in the modern Billboard 100 era, has died. He was 85 at the time of his passing.

Bilk's manager Pamela Sutton announced that Bilk had died on Sunday at a hospital in Bath, UK, but did not reveal a cause of death. Bilk had been previously treated successfully for throat cancer diagnosed in 2000 and subsequently treated for liver cancer as well as for a minor stroke.

A native of Somerset, Bilk served in the British army, where he learned clarinet as a way to pass the time. He would go on to be one of the best known artists in Britain's traditional jazz scene.

Bilk, known for his customary goatee, waistcoat and bowler hat, was a fixture on British television long after jazz faded from its preeminent place in pop music. His music was included in the cassette that accompanied the Apollo 10 and he was awarded with the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, and their son and daughter. – Staff Writers