Celebrated British jazz musician Acker Bilk has died at the age of 85.

The clarinet player passed away on Sunday (02Nov14) at a hospital in Bath, England, after battling a long illness.

Born Bernard Stanley Bilk, he first picked up the clarinet at 18 while serving in the British Army in Egypt after World War Ii.

After completing his national service, he focused on a career as a professional musician, rising to fame in the 1950s and '60s with his smooth vibrato and helping to revive the tradition jazz genre.

One of his biggest hits was Stranger on the Shore, which became the U.K.'s best-selling single of 1962 and made him a star overseas. His other tunes included Summer Set and Buona Sera.

He was honoured for his services to the music industry with a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Mbe) award in 2001, a year after winning a battle with throat cancer.

Bilk performed his final concert last summer, in August, 2013.

Paying tribute, his longtime manager Pamela Sutton says, "(Bilk had) been ill for some time. He was my great friend and his music was legendary."