Oliver's Memories of Peter Banks


I thought that I would start with a few thoughts about Peter. For those of you who aren't aware of Peter and his work, Peter was the original guitarist with Yes back in the late 60's and worked on their first two albums. I enjoyed performing Astral Traveller when I was in Yes and it was great fun to play on a track that was linked to this early incarnation of the band.

However, Peter and I did work together on a couple of my albums back in 1999 and 2001. My first rock record 'Jabberwocky' (a collaboration with Clive Nolan) featured Peter heavily as the main lead guitarist and he came up with some amazing parts.

Taken at the CRS awards night in Nov 1999
From left to right - Martin Hudson (Classic Rock Society), Steve Hackett
(ex-Genesis), Oliver & Peter Banks (ex-Yes and Jabberwocky cast!!).

Peter worked in a slightly unusual way in so much that he was a great improviser and never played the same part twice - he'd give you lots of great solos in their entirety to chose parts from. He also had a wonderfully jazzy style which was best represented on the Jabberwocky album with his great solo in Coming to Town. I'd originally written the jazzy chords with the idea of having a sax solo (in fact the original demos have me doing a sax solo on a keyboard) but when Peter put his jazz solo down, all thoughts of a sax solo were soon forgotten.

The record came out whilst I was working on my next album 'The 3 Ages of Magick' which featured Steve Howe. I played Steve some of the album and he was genuinely impressed with the guitar work he heard - 'Is that really Peter..?' I remember hearing him say in his studio in Devon during one of our arrangement sessions.

Peter & I got together again for the followup to Jabberwocky, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' and again Peter came up with some great - completely unique - guitar lines. His solo on my track 'By Your Side' is particularly gorgeous and completely unexpected in construction and approach.

Peter and I kept in touch for a while afterwards but as is often the way, paths take different directions and I hadn't been in contact for a few years. But I am proud to have met Peter and I'm even more proud that I have some of his performances on 2 of my albums. RIP Peter Banks, thanks for the music.

Oliver Wakeman
March 2013