TONY BANKS
... A Brief History
Part One: 1950-1993

Anthony George Banks was born March 27, 1950 in East Hoathly, located in southern England. The youngest of five children, Tony Banks was encouraged to play music by his parents John and Nora at a very young age. Banks eventually developed a talent for the piano, which became the focus of musical endeavors. In 1963, Banks left a local preparatory school for Charterhouse, a prestigious public school (what North Americans would refer to as private school) founded in 1611 just outside Godalming. While Banks allegedly did not care for boarding school, he excelled in his studies with a particular interest in mathematics and physics.   For the next album, 1977's Wind and Wuthering, Genesis once again found themselves seeking a touring drummer. This time, the band hired Chester Thompson, best known for his work with Frank Zappa and The Mothers and the jazz super group Weather Report. After completing the 1977 world tour, Genesis was mixing their second live album, Seconds Out, when Steve Hackett announced his departure from the band. Rather than replace Hackett, bassist Michael Rutherford decided to take on the task of guitars and bass, making Genesis a trio. Unbeknownst to the band at the time, this new line-up would remain intact for more than 15 years. 
 

Banks continued to study the piano with interests ranging from classical to pop music of the era. Interestingly, Banks early classic influence meshed with his interest in pop music would radically impact his future in ways that he could not possibly have imagined. During his tenture at Charterhouse, Banks met fellow schoolmate Peter Gabriel who came to the school around the same period. Peter Gabriel shared Banks' love of music, with particular passion for soul artists of the period, like Otis Redding. Gabriel had an interest in making music, but was a mediocre drummer at best. It was young Gabriel's unique voice; however, that proved to be quite exceptional. The two boys would spend much of their time together and by 1966 formed The Garden Wall.
  The three remaining members, Collins, Banks, and Rutherford, returned to the studio to record their eleventh (and aptly named) album, 1978's ...And Then There Were Three... Although beyond their comprehension at the time, this album served as the catalyst for Genesis' explosion into the mainstream. The album effectively bridged the transition from progressive rock to radio-orientated pop, earning the band's first RIAA-certified gold record for 500,000 plus copies sold in the States and yielded their first big U.S. hit, "Follow You Follow Me," which reached #23 on the singles chart. 

Years later, ...And Then There Were Three... would go on to earn platinum certification for more than one million copies sold and peak at #14 on the albums chart in the United States. With the departure of Steve Hackett, another guitarist was needed for touring purposes. For this reason, the band chose Daryl Stuermer who was best known for his work with jazz greats like George Duke and Jean-Luc Ponty. 
As Genesis began to evolve musically, some fans felt that the group's departure from the progressive sound of the early to mid 1970s was a form of selling out, commercially speaking.
Despite this, the band continued to follow their artistic vision and eventually gained public acclaim (although, critical acclaim typically alluded the band throughout most of their career). Following the 1978 world tour, the band took time off to work on a variety of outside projects and to deal with personal matters.
In early 1967, The Garden Wall joined forces with fellow Carthusians Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford, who had been performing together for nearly two years as The Anon. They recorded some demos together with Peter Gabriel on drums and vocals, Tony Banks on piano, Anthony Phillips on guitar and Mike Rutherford on bass. This new band managed to pawn off a cassette copy of their amateur demos to Jonathan King, a former Charterhouse alumni, who had recent success on the pop charts with the 1965 UK hit “Everybody’s Gone to the Moon.” King listened to the tape while driving home that day and liked what he heard on the demo tape, especially the voice of the singer, Peter Gabriel. King later signed the young, yet unnamed band, to a publishing contract in 1967. The band enlisted the help of drummer Chris Stewart to allow Peter Gabriel to focus on being lead vocalist, and with that, the band line up was complete.
 
 
During this hiatus, Tony Banks began work on his first solo album, 1979's A Curious Feeling. For his solo debut, he enlisted the help of Genesis' touring drummer Chester Thompson along with Kim Beacon on lead vocals. All other instrumentation was performed by Banks himself. The album, which was co-produced with then Genesis producer David Hentschel, had a very strong Genesis sounding quality, musically speaking, but failed to attract an audience. 

Genesis regrouped to release Duke in April 1980. The trio found that they had produced their most successful album to date. Duke featured two popular hit singles: "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On Again." It was during this period that Genesis swept Melody Maker Magazine's poll in Europe, ranking #1 in a total of six categories. The Duke album and the success of the two singles fueled a very successful world tour.

Genesis' first U.S. top ten and RIAA-certified platinum selling album, Abacab, was released in September 1981 and peaked at #9 on the U.S. albums chart. By this point, each album seemed to follow the pattern of more commercial success than its predecessors. Abacab featured three U.S. hit singles, "No Reply At All", "Man On The Corner" and "Abacab." Following Abacab, which had by this point sold more than two million copies in the U.S. (earning double-platinum status), the band released their third live album, 1982's Three Sides Live, which peaked at #10 on
the U.S. albums chart.
The band recorded additional demos that failed to gain the interest of King, so the band went back to record a song in the vein of one of King’s then favorite bands, The Bee Gees, known as “The Silent Sun.” The song would reinstate King’s interest in the group, and would later be released as the band’s first single in 1968. The band still needed a name and despite many recommendations, including Peter Gabriel’s suggestion of Gabriel’s Angels, they ended up settling on King’s moniker for the group, Genesis.
 
 
In North America, Three Sides Live was a double LP set with three sides of material recorded live in concert and one side of non-LP studio recordings, including the U.S. hit "Paperlate." The version currently available is identical to the European issue, which is completely live (The majority of the non-LP studio recording from the original U.S. version of Three Sides Live would later resurface in 2000 on the second Archive box set and again in 2007 on the 1976-1982 box set). Three Sides Live went on to sell more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. earning yet another RIAA gold album certification for Genesis.
In 1968, the band released two singles “The Silent Sun” and “A Winter’s Tale” followed by the release of their debut album, From Genesis to Revelation, in March 1969. From Genesis to Revelation featured the original line-up sans drummer Chris Stewart who had been replaced with percussionist John Silver. Commercially, all three efforts proved to be fruitless. Jonathan King, who tended to be more singles orientated, became increasingly frustrated with Genesis’ tendency to prefer longer compositions, and the group and their producer eventually parted ways.

Genesis spent the next year writing new material and hitting the road, refining their live performances at smaller gigs at universities and technical colleges. During this period, the band felt the need to move away from a softer acoustic sound and focus more on a louder electric sound. This dramatic change was driven by the issues at the time with amplification of softer music in a live concert setting. The result caught the attention of Tony Stratton-Smith, who signed Genesis to his Charisma Records label in April 1970.

The band returned to the studio to record their next album. Unfortunately, with the completion of the second album, more personnel changes were needed by the summer of 1970. Co-founding member and guitarist Anthony Phillips quit the band due to an increasing bout with stage fright, which had developed significantly over the past year. Genesis used Phillips’ departure as an opportunity to seek out a new drummer and gave new Trespass drummer John Mayhew his walking papers. Given their very close relationship, Mike took Ant’s departure from Genesis very hard, but the band carried on and began their search for a new drummer and guitarist.
 
 
Following the Abacab world tour, Tony Banks returned to the studio to record his second solo album, The Fugitive. For the project, Banks needed a new drummer and contacted respected session drummer Steve Gadd, who he greatly admired for his ability to take odd time signatures and make them sound ordinary. Gadd, who happened to be coming to England to do some session work with ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, joined Banks in the studio for three songs that appeared on the album. Other musicians on the project included Genesis touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer, acclaimed session player Mo Foster on bass, and Tony Beard and Andy Duncan on drums. Banks assumed lead vocals on The Fugitive along with keyboards and synthesizers which, in retrospect, may not have been the ideal choice given Banks' limited abilities as a lead singer. Much like A Curious Feeling, The Fugitive and it's singles, like "This is Love," did not garner any commercial success.  

That year also saw the brief return of Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett for a one-off reunion concert in England. The now legendary concert was not officially recorded, but the now infamous and widely circulated audience recorded bootleg of the show is probably one of the most sought after unsanctioned recordings ever made from a Genesis concert.

In 1983, the Warner Brothers film, The Wicked Lady, starring Faye Dunaway was released. The film featured a soundtrack by Tony Banks. The soundtrack included songs Banks recorded in his home and mixed at Genesis' studio, The Farm, along with additional themes performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London conducted by Stanley Black with musical arrangements and orchestration by Christopher Palmer. The film did not do well in the theaters, which probably attributed to the fact that despite being a digital recording, The Wicked Lady soundtrack was never officially reissued on compact disc until 2013
! In fact, it was the last Genesis solo project to be re-released on the digital format.
In October 1970, the band released their second album, Trespass. The band had managed to quickly fill the constantly revolving drummer’s seat with child actor and percussionist, Phil Collins. Collins had come to Genesis from the group Flaming Youth, and quickly impressed Gabriel, Banks, and Rutherford with his abilities as a drummer. Genesis struggled to identify a guitarist strong enough to replace Anthony Phillips. The band auditioned many musicians for the spot including former Flaming Youth guitarist Ronnie Caryl and Mick Barnard, the latter of which held the guitarist chair for a couple of months while a permanent replacement could be found. By the end of 1970, Genesis had replaced Barnard with Steve Hackett, a young guitarist who had just recorded an album with the group Quiet World.

This newly revamped line-up would remain intact for five years. During this period, Genesis released four studio albums (Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway), one live album, and toured almost non-stop. It was also during this period that the band began experimenting in art rock. The group gained a major cult following in Europe and parts of North America with their powerful progressive music and elaborate stage shows.

Lead singer Peter Gabriel's stage presence and flair of ornate costumes, along with the band's dedication to musical perfection in the live setting, quickly gained Genesis some much needed attention and acclaim, but the band continued to fail, commercially speaking. Despite this, the band's momentum continued to rise.
 
 



1983's self-titled Genesis album, which went quadruple platinum in the U.S., gave the band their first top ten American single, "That's All." The album also spawned several other hit singles, reaffirming Genesis' superstar status. At the end of the 1984 world tour, the band went on hiatus, and all members pursued solo projects.

During his third break from Genesis, Tony Banks released Soundtracks in 1985. The albu
m was a compilation of music written and performed by Banks for the films L' Orca and the Outlaws and Quicksilver. The largely keyboard driven, largely instrumental album, featured three tracks with vocals, "Shortcut to Somewhere" featuring Ex-Marillion vocalist Fish, "You Call This Victory" with Jim Diamond, and "Lion of Symmetry" with Toyah Willcox. Focused around epic instrumental pieces like "Redwing Suite," the album lacked much commercial appeal. Interestingly, "Redwing Suite" was actually written for the film 2010, the sequel to the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey, but remained unused until Banks recycled the unused track for the Quicksilver soundtrack. When the "Shortcut To Somewhere" single failed to chart, the album quickly faded into obscurity.

In 1986, the Invisible Touch album was released and went on to reach number three on the Billboard album chart. The Genesis album went on to sell more than six million copies in the United States alone. This unprecedented achievement made U.S. pop history, with Genesis becoming the first group (and foreign act)  to earn five top five singles from an album. Later that year, Billboard Magazine honored Genesis and its members for having the most singles by one group (and as solo artists originating from one group) on the publication's Hot 100 Chart (Steve Hackett with GTR, Peter Gabriel, Michael Rutherford with Mike & The Mechanics, Phil Collins, and Genesis all had singles near the top of the chart).

The 1986/87 Genesis world tour in support of the Invisible Touch album was massive. The ten month tour took the band to 111 shows, 59 cities, 16 countries, and a total of more than three million fans. After completing the tour, the band went their separate ways to recuperate and, once again, work on outside projects.  Genesis was paid further tribute that year when Rolling Stone magazine named the group "Band of The Year" in their annual reader's poll. 

In November 1974, Genesis released what would be their final album with this line-up, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The conceptual double album remains one of the group's most critically heralded projects to date. The Lamb eventually earned gold certification in the U.S. for sales in excess of 500,000 copies and peaked at #41 on the U.S. albums chart. In May 1975, by the end of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour, the band received their most devastating loss yet. Vocalist Peter Gabriel had decided the leave the band for personal reasons. 

Despite rumors to the contrary, Genesis chose to carry on. The band returned without a lead singer to the studio to begin work on a new album. After auditioning a number of potential singers, Genesis bandmate Phil Collins decided to take the job while maintaining his role as drummer. Collins had sung lead on a few tracks previously and supported Gabriel on backing vocals since joining the group, so he seemed like an obvious choice to some. Others thought Collins would lack the ability to successfully carry off signature Gabriel sung tunes like "The Musical Box" which were staples of Genesis live shows at the time.  
 
  Following the cues of his Genesis colleague Mike Rutherford, who had opted to use the band name Mike and the Mechanics to guise his successful solo project in 1985, Tony Banks thought a similar strategy might help his next project gain more commercial exposure. For the project, Banks enlisted Alistair Gordon and Jayney Klimek as vocalists, again similar to the Rutherford model of using more than one vocalist to best meet the individual needs of his compositions. Also part of Banks' new ensemble were producer/guitarist Steve Hillage and renowned session bassist Pino Palladino. With this new line-up, in 1989, Tony Banks released his next solo endeavor, Bankstatment. Despite being a much more "radio friendly" release than past solo efforts, singles like "Throwback", "Raincloud," and "I'll Be Waiting" lacked commercial recognition. Following the release of Bankstatment, Atlantic Records dropped Tony Banks from its label in North America.
At this point, Genesis was still not without conflict. As democratic as Genesis was in selecting each other's songs for album inclusion, Steve Hackett started to feel that some of his compositions were being unfairly overlooked. Hackett had used the gap of time the band needed to locate a new lead singer to record his first solo album, Voyage of The Acolyte. But the artistic freedom of one solo album did not permanently relieve his dissatisfaction with Genesis. In fact, the creative control Hackett experienced during the making of that solo album only intensified his desire as a songwriter and musician.

Genesis' next album, 1976's A Trick of The Tail, restored their underground following's faith in the group, but started to take the band in another direction musically. While the art rock style of Gabriel-era Genesis disappeared, Collins proved to be a suitable replacement as lead singer and a consummate showman. On the 1976 Genesis tour, the need for Collins to get in-front of the audience as lead vocalist, forced the band to add a second drummer. Genesis enlisted progressive-rock drummer Bill Bruford, best known at the time for his work with bands like Yes and King Crimson. 
While Bruford provided adequate support while Collins took center stage, he was not satisfied simply supporting the band on the road and left at the conclusion of the tour.
 
  After the tepid commercial response to the Bankstatement project and signing a new recording contract with Giant Records (which, like Atlantic, was a subsidiary of the WEA label), Tony Banks decided to release this 1992 solo project, Still,  under his own name. The process of pursuing a new recording contract in North America caused the Still release to surface nearly a year after its original European release in 1991.

For the Still album, Banks re-enlisted the help of vocalists like Fish and Jayney Klimek along with Andy Taylor and Nick Kirshaw. Tony Banks crafted a pop-orientated, comme
rcially accessible album featuring singles like "I Wanna Change The Score" and "The Gift." Unfortunately, once again, Banks' solo effort failed to gain commercial success.
 
It had been four years since Genesis released their next studio album, 1991's We Can't Dance. The album was another record breaker for the group featuring five hit U.S. singles: "I Can't Dance", "Hold on My Heart", "Never A Time" , "Jesus He Knows Me" and "No Son of Mine." We Can't Dance eventually earned multi-platinum status, selling in excess of four million copies in the U.S. alone. In Europe, rather than release "Never A Time", the band chose to put "Tell Me Why" out as a single, which also did respectably on the charts overseas.

Like their previous tour, the 1992 concert tour generated the highest average gross per venue of any act that year. At this point in the band's career, Genesis was a musical juggernaut and arguably had become one of the most successful acts in existence, if not music history. At the conclusion of the tour, the band released their fourth live album, The Way We Walk.

The Way We Walk features two volumes sold individually. The first part, The Shorts, which went gold in the U.S. selling more than 500,000 copies, focused on the group's more pop-orientated songs. Believe it or not, The Shorts also marked the first time the band ever put their faces on the front of one of their albums. The second volume, The Longs, sold only 260,351 copies in the U.S., and included some of the band's more epic material (and a drum duet between Phil Collins and Chester Thompson). The tour was also released video on both VHS and laserdisc as The Way We Walk. The video of this tour resurfaced yet again on the DVD format in 2001.

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