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Acker Bilk.  A little film by Bert van der Saag.

Acker Bilk. A little film by Bert van der Saag.

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                                                                                                 Video audio translation. 

When I was 15 years old, I heard for the first time the music of Mr. Acker Bilk.  That was at home by my parents in law (not at that moment).  He was playing clarinet and at once (directly) I was flabbergasted.  And now 58 years later it is still the same.


My first LP I bought in 1963 and was called “Call me Mister”, I still have it.  Now a small part your father is telling on a single specially made for Holland.  The single “Ik zag twee beren broodjes smeren” , a children song “Fido”.


In 1980 I went, with my father and a colleague, for the first to a live concert in the Harbour Jazz Club at Rotterdam.  The tension was big, because the question was, was he live as good as he played on his records?  And yes, he was, maybe better and I was more of a fan than before.  I asked the bartender for the poster on the wall.  Acker gave me his signature on it and this poster is still hanging in my small Acker room (My children call it “Daddies Kick Room”).


In 2003 Gustien, my wife,  Henk, a colleague fan and I went to Giessenburg, a small Dutch town, for a live concert.  In the pause Henk and I had the possibility to talk with Acker.  It was a very nice conversation.


My collection now comprises about 250 LP’s, 500 CD’s, 40 films, DVD’s and about 100 singles and ep’s.  And still I have not enough, you have to be a little bit crazy !!


In his 50th, Acker made 5 small LP’s in a shop at the “77” Street in London.  They call the record “77” records and these LP’s are collectors items.

On ebay I saw the records in Australia, that was unique.  Till three o’clock in the morning I was sitting and hoping to have them.  And yes, I got them. I was as happy as I could be.


In 2012 Henk and I went to England to meet Acker and his wife Jean.  He lived in Pensford and more than two hours we were talking, drinking tea and had fun.  It was not to be believed.  Acker was also a not undeserving painter. During the visit he took us to his studio.  We had to choose a painting and we got it.  How was it possible, it is still in my Acker room too.


Acker has a world famous hit.  First recording as Jenny, his daughter, but a television series took the song as the beginning tune and called it “Stranger on the Shore”.


Next day, after our visit, Jean came with us to a concert in Oxford (05 – 10 – 2014 ).  In the break Jean and I went backstage and look I was standing with Acker’s clarinet.  He played a little song for me and told me “ I do not play as well as I could”.  He was 83 years old.  No wonder.


I still search on the internet for recordings which I do not have.  I am looking fore private recordings, radio and television recordings and so on.

And still I sometimes find new material.  It is so nice to find new music.


At this moment I have contact with Jenny, Acker’s daughter.  I ask her how Mother Jean is?  (sorry she passed away).


The concert in Oxford was one of the latest concerts Acker gave.  Acker passed away on 02 – 11- 2014 at the age of 84.


Still it is a wonderful hobby and I listen everyday to the music Acker played.  And I will do that as long as possible.


Bert van der Saag. 

The video clip and description below were kindly sent by Bill Cockram.  

"Acker toured New Zealand in 1988 where he was interviewed by Bill Cockram for TVNZ'S Christchurch regional news programme "The Mainland Touch".  Acker's flight was delayed getting to Christchurch and it seemed that he might arrive too late for the programme's 6.00pm deadline.  Fortunately background footage had been prepared in advance using of course Stranger on the Shore cut to some deserted Christchurch beach pictures.  A hastily shot interview on the empty stage of the Christchurch Town Hall and Acker's improvisation of "Tea for Two" were tacked on the end;... just in time to make the evening's TV broadcast and ahead of that night's Town Hall concert by Acker and the band".   

I made a promise to Jean that I would try to write a biography of her husband, Acker. With this book my promise is fulfilled. 


Cormorant Garamond is a classic font with a modern twist. It's easy to read on screens of every shape and size, and perfect for long blocks of text.

Dale and Jean on the occasion of the unveiling of Acker’s Blue Plaque, 2017.

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