Remembering the Honourable Tommy Banks (December 17, 1936 – January 25, 2018). Distinguished former senator and Edmonton music legend.
The Honourable Thomas Benjamin Banks, OC, AOE, pianist, conductor, arranger, composer, TV personality, actor, producer, politician (born 17 December 1936 in Calgary, AB; died 25 January 2018 in Edmonton, AB). The multi-talented Tommy Banks has had an unparalleled, multi-faceted career spanning more than 60 years in virtually every aspect of the entertainment industry in Canada. A professional jazz pianist at age 14, he went on to lead his own bands, conduct symphony orchestras around the world, direct musical ceremonies at international events, host his own long-running television show, and act in film and television. He also served nearly 12 years in the Senate as a member of the Liberal Parliamentary Caucus.
Since his 1950 professional debut, Tommy Banks has, as the Toronto Star pointed out, “…..done everything a musician could wish for.” MacLean’s Magazine observed that “It would be easier to list the things he doesn’t do.”
He is the recipient of the Juno Award, the Gemini Award, the Grand Prix du Disques-Canada, several ARIA Awards, and is a member of the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame.
He provided musical direction for the ceremonies of the XI Commonwealth Games, EXPO ’86, The World University Games, the XV Olympic Winter Games, and for countless television shows. He has produced and/or conducted command performances for Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family, and for President Ronald Reagan.
He was the founding chairman of the Alberta Foundation for the Performing Arts, a member of the Canada Council from 1989-95 and a policy consultant to the Council from 1996-98. He was chairman of the Edmonton Concert Hall Foundation from 1989-91. He is the recipient of an honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta, of the Sir Frederick Haultain Prize, the Alberta Order of Excellence, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
He has conducted symphony orchestras throughout North America and in Europe. His recordings are on Century II Records, distributed by Royalty Records.
- Best Jazz Album (Jazz Canada Montreux 1978), Juno Awards (1979)
- Honorary Diploma of Music, Grant MacEwan College (1979)
- Grand Prix du Disques–Canada, Canadian Music Council (1979)
- Inductee, Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame (1986)
- Honorary Degree, LLD, University of Alberta (1987)
- Sir Frederick Haultain Prize, Province of Alberta (1990)
- Officer, Order of Canada (1991)
- Best Performance in a Variety Program or Series (The 1990 Canadian Country Music Awards), Gemini Awards (1992)
- Inductee, Alberta Order of Excellence (1993)
- Special Achievement Award, SOCAN (2010)