On January 26, the National Arts Centre lowered its flag to half-mast to honour the passing of the great Canadian pianist and conductor Tommy Banks at the age of 81.

Born in Calgary in 1936, Banks was touring as early as 14, travelling to Europe and even Asia in the 1950s. Banks also cut his teeth and worked at the legendary Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, which is now situated at 11 Tommy Banks Way.

Banks kept performing from his early start, playing with Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin along the way.

The NAC also collaborated with Tommy Banks on programming throughout the years including Canada Day shows, The Alberta Scene Festival and a tribute to Oscar Peterson.

Banks also won both Gemini and ARIA Awards, received the Alberta Award of Excellence and even won a Juno as recently as 2016 for his album Legacy Live