This Day In Music 27.03.2016
Banks is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, best known for being keyboardist and a founding member of rock band Genesis.
Anthony George 'Tony' Banks was born on 27 March, in 1950 in East Hoathly, Sussex, England. He received classical training in piano and taught himself to play guitar. He was most inspired in playing keyboard instruments. He also proved a natural musician, absorbing classical as well as pop and rock material seemingly effortlessly and was also conversant with generations of church music and concert works, and what lay behind their sounds. He attended Charterhouse School, where he met fellow pupil Peter Gabriel in 1963. Banks and Gabriel, together with drummer Chris Stewart, formed a band called Garden Wall. This band emerged with another called Anon, which included Mike Rutherford and Anthony Philips. The two groups ended up merging and the result was a new group called Genesis. On the earlist sides, Banks played piano, organ, and some Mellotron, as well as guitar, and also contributed to the backing vocals. Genesis' debut single The Silent Sun and the follow up album entitled From Genesis To Revelation failed to generate any lasting impact on radio or on the charts. The first great occasion for Banks arrived with the album Trespass which including the track titled The Knife, it was a huge dramatic crowd-pleaser at shows, and it was a great platform for Banks opening with a solo part on Hammond organ. It was after the release of Nursery Crime, that Banks conceived an idea for a song, about a space traveler who arrives on a now-deserted Earth, that evolved into one of the most popular of the group's early history, Watcher Of The Skies. The latter was not only one of their few studio tracks to get any airplay on American FM radio, but also became a perennial crowd-pleaser in the group's concert set.
Genesis – Watcher of the Skies, live 1973
Supper's Ready , the 25 minute conceptual piece from Foxtrot album, was also a keyboard tour the force with Hackett, Rutherford and drummer Phil Collins (who joined the group in 1970) all grind away in a relentless, pounding beat, and Bank's hand dancing across the keyboards like a coreography.
The group's next album Selling England By The Pound was an even better showcase for his playing, his synthesizers and other electronic keyboards weaving a rich sonic tapestry and even providing memorable choral parts on Dancing With the Moonlit Knight, while his use of grand piano added drama and impact at strategic moments.
Genesis – Selling England by the Pound, live
The follow up album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway marked the high watermark of the group's progressive period, and its culmination.
In 1976 Gabriel left the band and with his replacement as lead singer by Phil Collins, the band adopted pop oriented approach to music. Banks still contributed richly textured keyboard parts over the ensuing years, and the band had immense pop success. Banks released many solo projects: he and bassist Rutherford wrote the music for the British movie chiller The Shout and Banks, later ecycled the central theme from that score into From the Undertow, one of the songs from his first solo album, A Curious Feeling. His second solo album The Fugitive featured Banks as a singer as well as on keyboards. Much more important was his work, that same year, scoring the period romantic drama The Wicked Lady, which stimulated him to compose what eventually became his first major orchestral work, Seven: A Suite for Orchestra. In 2004, Banks entered the classical field formally when his Seven: A Suite for Orchestra, was recorded by The London Philarmonic Orchestra. The album received a worldwide release on Naxos Records. Bank's second classical album was released in 2012, entitled Six Pieces For Orchestra performed by the City of PraguePhilarmonic Orchestra. In 2015 Banks has been named “Prog God” at the annual Progressive Music Awards.