‘A booze up send off’: Lively celebration of original Yes guitarist Peter Banks’ life is in the works

Peter Banks launched his solo career in 1973 with an album called Two Side of Peter Banks. Now fans, stricken over his sudden death, can enjoy the other side of mourning: Celebrating the ex-Yes guitarist’s life.

Manager George Mizer, who helped settle Banks’ final arrangements last week, is organizing what he told us will be “a booze up send off for Pete.” It’s a chance for family, friends and fans to get together and give Banks a high-spirited send off, after weeks of struggle to get his estate in order.

Mizer says one-time Yes manager Roy Flynn, tongue firmly in cheek, has suggested calling the event: “Remembering Peter (Piss up Party!)”

In all seriousness, though, Mizer says he hopes to hold this celebration in London on Sunday, April 7, 2013, but needs to get some idea of how many people might attend. He’d like attendees to email him at TheMiz@PeterBanks.Net so he can determine what size venue is needed.

“I don’t want to charge a fee,” Mizer adds. “I would love it to be a pay-as-you-go event.”

This Thursday, Mizer also plans to end an on-going sale of rare and hard-to-find Banks recordings via eBay, which he organized to help defray expenses in finalizing Banks’ affairs. “I am over the moon,” he tells us, “with all the help I already have.”

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Producer Billy Sherwood previews what look to be original Yes guitarist Peter Banks' final recordings, on the forthcoming 'Prog Collective 2" project for Cleopatra.]

Once called the architect of progressive music by the BBC, Banks was born in 1947 in Barnet, North London, as Peter Brockbanks. He met future Yes bandmate Chris Squire in an early group called the Syn, who’d open for Jimi Hendrix in 1967.

Banks and Squire then joined Tony Kaye, Bill Bruford and Jon Anderson on Yes’ initial two albums before the guitarist split for subsequent stints with Flash and Empire.

Though he’d record a trio of solo albums in the late 1990s, and more recently guested on projects with Billy James’s ANT-BEE and fellow Yes alum Billy Sherwood, Banks had been in declining health — and endured battles with cancer, depression and Legionnaire’s disease over his last years. He was eventually felled by a heart attack on March 7, 2013.

Banks’ body, however, remained at a morgue for days, as paperwork to release the body and other issues were slowly sorted out. Mizer stepped in, calling on friends, fans and others to donate toward final arrangements, and plans finally moved forward for cremation — which ultimately took place at Golders Green in London on Friday.

Banks’ official web site has kept a running tally of donors and others who have helped through this difficult process. It can be found here: http://peterbanks.net/.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.

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