Tommy Banks

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Thomas Benjamin Banks

Tommy Banks.jpg
Senator for Alberta, Canada
In office
April 7, 2000 December 17, 2011
Appointed by Adrienne Clarkson
Preceded by Ron Ghitter
Personal details
Born(1936-12-17)December 17, 1936
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
DiedJanuary 25, 2018(2018-01-25) (aged 81)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Political party Liberal
Residence Edmonton, Alberta
ProfessionPianist, conductor, arranger, composer, television personality and former senator.

Thomas Benjamin Banks, OC AOE LL.D. (December 17, 1936 – January 25, 2018) was a Canadian pianist, conductor, arranger, composer, television personality and senator.


Television and musical career

Banks was the host of nationally - and internationally - syndicated and network television programs, including “The Tommy Banks Show” (1968-1983), “Somewhere There’s Music”, “What’s My Name”, “ Love and Mr. Smith”, “Celebrity Revue”, “Symphony of a Thousand”, “Tommy Banks Jazz”, etc.

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 produced and/or conducted command performances for Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family, and for President Ronald Reagan. He was a member of the A. F. of M., ACTRA, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (U.S.), the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, and of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Banks made his jazz-playing debut in 1950 in the touring band of saxophonist Don (D. T.) Thompson. He played jazz throughout North America, Western and Central Europe, Japan, and Southeast Asia. In 1983 his quintet became the first jazz band to tour in continental China since the 1949 revolution.

Before being called to the Senate of Canada, Tommy Banks served as chair of the Music Committee of the Board of Governors of Alberta College; he was founding chairman of the Alberta Foundation for the Performing Arts; chair of the Music Program at Grant MacEwan Community College; of the Edmonton Concert Hall Foundation; of the Instrumental Jazz Division of MusicFest Canada (North America’s largest music festival organization); of the B. & B. Foundation for the Theatrical & Musical Arts of Alberta; member of the board of the CKUA Radio Network Foundation; Honorary chair of the Alberta Heart Fund; an Honorary member of Cosmopolitan International and of Rotary International (of which he was a Paul Harris Fellow).

Selected Currently-Available Recordings
Yes Indeed,Solo pianoRRI 300-9647
For Dancers OnlyTommy Banks Big BandRRI 300-9650
At the Montreux Festival**Tommy Banks Big BandRRI 300-9752
Big MillerBanks Big Band/QuartetCIICD 10974
The Holiday SeasonTommy Banks & Many FriendsRCD-0268
In The Middle of the RoadTommy Banks & Many FriendsTBCD 1010
Tommy Banks's ChristmasPiano & OrchestraTBCD 1308
Old FriendsP. J. Perry & Tommy BanksTBCD 1312
Legacy Live*Jens Lindemann & Tommy BanksInd.
Sweet Canadiana*Order of Canada SoloistsInd.

On Century II Records, distributed by Royalty Records.

** JUNO Award winner * JUNO Award nominee

Guest conducted

Government career

Senator Banks was appointed to the Senate by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson at the recommendation of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 2000. He represented Alberta, sitting as a Liberal. In the Senate, he served as a member of the Standing Committee on National Finance, of the Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, of the Standing Committee on National Security and Defence (SCONSAD) and on its steering committee, and as chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans’ Affairs. In each of the 37th, 38th, and 39th Parliaments he was elected Chair of the Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources. In the 37th and 38th Parliaments he served as Chair of the Alberta Liberal Parliamentary Caucus. Following dissolution of the 37th Parliament Senator Banks was named to an all-party Committee of Parliamentarians from both Houses, given the task of advising the Government on the setting up of parliamentary oversight of security intelligence matters. He served on an ad hoc basis on several additional committees of the Senate. He was vice-chair of the Caucus task force on urban issues that produced Canada's Urban Strategy - a Blueprint for Action which Report led to an important national debate.

Authored legislation items


Banks died of leukemia on January 25, 2018, in Edmonton, Alberta. [2]

Titles, honours, and awards.


As a former senator, Banks was entitled to be styled The Honourable for life.


Ribbon bar of Tommy Banks
Order of Canada (OC) ribbon bar.png Alberta Order Excellence ribbon bar.svg Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Canada125 ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png ACM ribbon.png

In order, these ribbons symbolise Banks': Order of Canada, Alberta Order of Excellence, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Alberta Centennial Medal


Banks won the Sir Frederick Haultain Prize, the 1979 Juno Award for Best Jazz Album, the 1992 Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Variety Program (with k.d. Lang, for their performance at the Canadian Country Music Awards). [3]

Banks received an ACTRA Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as an Alberta Recording Industry Award of Distinction [1] and the 2010 SOCAN Special Achievement Award. [4] His wife Ida and he were honorary co-chairs for Northern Alberta of the CKUA Radio Network Capital Campaign, and board members of Wellspring Edmonton.

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  1. 1 2 "Mercy - Arden collects half a dozen ARIAs". Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Alberta, May 30, 1994, p. 12
  2. "Tommy Banks Musician and former Senator deat at 81". Edmonton Journal
  3. "6th Gemini Awards". Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  5. "Winners + Nominees". The JUNO Awards. Retrieved 2020-03-31.