At the time of his death he was working on a live collection of Flash performances, “Flash—In Public.” It was during the sessions for that collection when he failed to show up for a session and was discovered dead in his home.
Banks began his musical journey in 1968 when he and bassist, Chris Squire, played in the band, Syn. In that same year Squire and singer, Jon Anderson, formed the progressive rock band, Yes. Banks was brought on board and recorded on the band’s first two albums, “Yes,” and “Time and A Word.”
Anderson wanted to add an orchestra to the tracks on the latter album. Banks disagreed feeling that as a result, he would have little input. He and keyboardist, Tony Kaye, were asked to leave after the recording was finished. His last gig with the band was at Luton College of Technology in April, 1970.
Banks was replaced by Steve Howe, who remains in the band to this day.
After the innovative musician left Yes, he formed the band, Flash. They released three studio albums, “Flash,” “In the Can,” and “Out of Our Hands,” all in the 1970’s. He also made a guest appearance on Lionel Ritchie’s hit, “Hello.”
Banks then moved on to form a band called, Empire. The band released three albums. Banks also recorded solo music. His first album, “Two Sides of Peter Banks,” (featuring Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Jan Akkerman and John Wetton) was released in 1973. He continued on that path with three more solo works in the 90’s.
In 2004, Banks formed the free-form, three-piece band, Harmony, and was also working on a jazz-fusion project called, “Self Contained” with Spanish keyboardist, Gonzalo Carrera.
Prog magazine editor, Jerry Ewing, said of Banks, “He’s very much part of the history and the legacy of progressive rock. When someone like DJ and journalist, Danny Baker, calls you the ‘architect of progressive music,’ it means something. Something like that rams home quite how important Peter Banks was to progressive music.”
Ewing said that Banks was very much part of a wider movement.
Ewing said, “He’s always going to be remembered for Yes and being the original guitar player as they found their feet and they developed that progressive sound.”
“They were among the bands which attempted to break the boundaries of rock music conventions by exploring different time signatures and quasi-symphonic arrangements. They were as much a figurehead of progressive rock in its classic era as the likes of Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Jethro Tull.”
No funeral plans have yet been announced.