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Tuesday, 7 March, 2000, 10:40 GMT
Jazzman Acker back on stage
Acker Bilk
Acker Bilk was diagnosed with throat cancer last October
Jazz legend Acker Bilk is to return to live performing in April, after being told he is in remission following treatment for throat cancer.

The 71-year-old clarinettist was forced to cancel a succession of tour dates with his Paramount Jazz Band last October when he was diagnosed with the disease.

But following an course of intensive radiotherapy, doctors have said he is now well enough to return to work.

Acker Bilk
Stranger On The Shore was Bilk's biggest hit
A spokeswoman for Bilk said: "The doctors have told Acker they're very pleased with him.

"He's in remission, but like everyone he must go for a check-up every couple of months."

Bilk, who is a regular player on the travelling jazz circuit, plans to return to the stage on 1 April at the Clevedon Festival in his native Somerset.

His only other booking is for a concert at Cleo Laine and John Dankworth's venue, The Stables, Wavendon, on 16 April.

It is also hoped he will be able to play alongside Kenny Ball, Chris Barber and their bands, at the National Trust's Kingston Lacy in Dorset, on 18 August.

While he has been given the all-clear to return to clarinet-playing, Bilk has been advised not to sing again just yet.

British jazz hero

Born in Somerset on 28 January, 1929, Bernard Stanley Bilk gained the nickname "Acker" - a local word meaning mate or pal - as a child.

Bilk's trademark was a bowler hat and beard
He started playing the clarinet in 1948 when he was in the Royal Engineers and formed his first band in Bristol after his demob.

He went on to be at the forefront of the British trad-jazz revival, scoring his biggest hit in 1961 with Stranger On The Shore, which spent 55 weeks in the UK singles chart.

Other big numbers in his run of 10 top 40 hits included Buona Sera and A Taste Of Honey.

Entertainer Roy Castle, who died of lung cancer in 1994, claimed to have contracted the disease through playing in smoky jazz clubs in the early days of his career.

Bilk used to smoke himself, but gave up after he suffered a heart attack in 1976.
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20 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Jazzman Acker's cancer fight
27 Aug 99 |  Health
Cancer deaths fall in Europe
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