Anthony George Banks (born 27 March 1950) is a founding member and the keyboardist of the rock band Genesis. He is actually the only original member left in the band, with Mike Rutherford having come aboard after Banks and Peter Gabriel's founding of the band The Garden Wall. He appears to be responsible in large part for some of their weirder post-Peter Gabriel tunes as well as the more fancy ones.
While he never was the face of the band, he's recognized for having authored many of its more important tunes and being (along with Rutherford) its only constant member. His creative peak could be said to be the albums A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering, where he has a majority of the writing credits and contributed large expansive pieces such as "One For The Vine" or "Mad Man Moon". In the Phil Collins era, he was still recognized as a writer for "long songs", notably "Domino" and "Home by the Sea". While he enjoyed giving a song breathing space and certainly did so when you let him, he did recognize that being able to create a song with a few basic chords and adequate lyrics can often be enough, and contrary to what is often new fans' first instincts didn't consider the pop turn of Genesis as a negative.
The other notable aspect of his career is that he is the only Genesis member to have failed his solo career. Phil Collins became a titan of the 80's, only second to Michael Jackson in sales. Peter Gabriel similarly cast an intimidating shadow. While Mike Rutherford didn't have much success with his first two albums, he did assemble Mike + the Mechanics and remained a major figure in the 80's, even restarting the machine in the 21st century. Meanwhile, Steve Hackett remains a respected figure in the Progressive Rock community and continues to release albums generating a lot of buzz. Banks, meanwhile, never managed to get off the floor in spite of trying a lot of things, including synthpop. He eventually decided to try his hand at classical music and composed a number of orchestral pieces that were well received.
His main solo albums include:
- A Curious Feeling – 1979
- The Fugitive – 1983
- Bankstatement – 1989
- Still – 1991
- Strictly Inc. – 1995
- Seven: A Suite for Orchestra – 2004
- Six Pieces for Orchestra – 2012
- 5 - 2018
Other albums include:
- The Wicked Lady Soundtrack – 1983
- Soundtracks – 1986
Tony Banks and his music provide examples of these tropes:
- Boring, but Practical: Tony prefers modern keyboards over retro ones like the Mellotron simply because they're much easier to manage.
- Born in the Wrong Century: The protagonist of the song "Throwback" from the album Bankstatement:I walk the backstreetsOf every dirty city, searching for the routeThat leads me back to where I belongI don't know how, but I'm trapped in the wrong timeIf you know someplace I can goThen I ask you, lead me to the door!
- I Am the Band: He never went on record saying this, but other people involved with Genesis were happy to say it on his behalf. Genesis manager Tony Smith always held that everyone in that band was replaceable except for Tony, and Phil Collins has admitted nothing happened in Genesis without Tony's approval. In fact, if Peter Gabriel wanted to do something cheeky (like wear a dress and a fox's head, or sing over the solo in Supper's Ready) he had to go behind Tony's back, or Tony would have put a stop to it.
- Lonely Piano Piece: "In The Dark" from A Curious Feeling.
- Loss of Identity: This happens to the protagonist of the Concept Album A Curious Feeling.
- The Man Behind the Man: Arguable. Despite the fact that people tend to label the band's eras as the Gabriel and Collins eras and give those two the largest share of the credit, Banks actually had the majority of writing credits in both eras.
- Pop-Star Composer: Banks scored the 1978 horror film The Shout, the 1983 Faye Dunaway movie The Wicked Lady and the 1986 Kevin Bacon movie Quicksilver (no, not this Quicksilver, the one about the bike messengers), among others. May be somewhat subverted, as Banks has not yet achieved the fame that his Genesis bandmates and fellow Pop Star Composers Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins have.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Word of God says that "Strictly Incognito" from the album Strictly Inc. is loosely based on an actual case Banks read about in the newspaper.
- Sanity Slippage Album: A Curious Feeling.
- Step Up to the Microphone: For his second record The Fugitive. Also on "Big Man" from Bankstatement and "Hero for an Hour" from Still. He was also the second lead vocalist on "Shepherd", a rare early (pre-Collins and Hackett) Genesis track that never received an official studio recording (a version from a BBC session has been released on multiple box sets).
- The Stoic: Tony is infamously unemotive when on stage, especially when in Genesis. Even during his solo career where he occasionally sang, Tony barely emoted.