Ottawa’s National Arts Centre has lowered its flag to half mast in memory of legendary jazz pianist Tommy Banks. The Edmonton jazz pianist and former senator died yesterday (Thursday) at the age of 81. His family has issued a statement saying Banks died peacefully, surrounded by family.
Tommy Banks’ long and impressive musical resume, began with his professional debut in 1950, and covered virtually aspect of Canadian entertainment through the years. He won both a Juno and Gemini award, hosted “The Tommy Banks Show” from 1968-1983 and numerous other TV programs. Tommy performed throughout North America and around the world as a guest conductor for numerous symphony orchestras, including 12 in Canada. He was musical director for Olympic and Commonwealth Games and had the honour of performing for such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth and Pope John Paul.
Tommy Banks was an Officer of the Order of Canada and was appointed to the senate in 2000 and served on several committees until his term ended in 2011. He also served on a panel which advised the government during the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
Photo credit: The Edmonton Journal