Who was/is Mr. Acker Bilk ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Acker Bilk, born in Pensford, Somerset, on Jan. 28, 1929, played the clarinet in a semi-professional band in Bristol before joining Ken Colyer in 1954 - replacing Monty Sun-shine. In 1958, Acker, christened Bernard, formed the Para-mount Jazz Band - the most representative line-up of which was Colin Smith (trumpet), John Mortimer (trombone), Ron McKay (drums), Roy James (banjo) and Stan Greig (piano) - and had a British Top Ten hit with 'Summer Set' in 1960.
The band's success owed more to their bowler hat and striped waistcoat image - created by 'The Bilk Marketing Board' - than it did to their dedication to traditional jazz. Largely on the strength of Peter Leslie's inventive publicity, they had eight Top Twenty hits, including Bilk's solo out-ing, 'Stranger On The Shore' - a piece of pure pop that made No. 1 on both the British and American charts in 1962. It was this more than anything else that helped the band move into the lucrative cabaret and TV variety show circuit just as the trad boom was collapsing. Bill Black links the pre-rock'n'roll sounds of C&W with the Sixties rock and soul sounds of the South. Born in Memphis on September 17, 1926, Black became a string bass session player with Sun, and teamed up with Elvis Presley for five years, playing on all his early hits and appearing in movies like Loving You.
The insistent bass sound of early Presley was carried over into the Bill Black Combo, formed in 1959, by which time he was using an electric instrument. His com-bo originated a genre of Memphis instrumentals with top hits like `Smokie' in 1959, 'White Silver Sand' in 1960 and `Josephine'. Aided by sax innovator, Ace Cannon, on 'Tuff' in 1962 the Combo backed Gene Simmons' 1964 hit 'Haun-ted House'. Groups like the Mar-Keys and Booker T and the MGs developed Black's sound further into soul, although the Combo itself has continued despite Black's death in October 1965.
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