Peter Banks, Founding Yes Guitarist, Found Dead at 65
Prog-rock innovator also played with Flash and Empire
Founding Yes guitarist Peter Banks has died at the age of 65. He was discovered in his London home after failing to show up to a recording session, according to the website for one of the progressive rock influencer’s other bands Flash. The announcement noted that he passed away on Thursday, March 7, due to heart failure, and that he’d been working on a live set, Flash — In Public.
Though current Yes axeman Steve Howe appears on the cover of the band’s second album, 1970’s Time and a World, Banks was around for the prog titans’ first two LPs, including their eponymous 1969 debut. He’d originally played with bassist Chris Squire in English psych outfit the Syn, and then later in Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, which, upon Banks’ suggestion, would change its name to Yes.
As the band looked to solidify it’s far-ranging sound, Banks was replaced with Howe. He went on to form two additional bands — Flash and Empire — and to release five solo albums including 1973’s Two Sides of Peter Banks, which appears in the photo above. Though Flash was only around for three years, the band formed its own cult following as an example of where Yes might’ve gone had Banks stuck around.
Yes — who are currently touring The Yes Album (1971), Close to the Edge (1972), and Going for the One (1977) — issued the following statement: “We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of fellow bandmate and founding Yes member, Peter Banks. He was a huge piece of the fabric that made Yes what it is, and our thoughts, sincere condolences, and prayers are with him and his family. Peter, we shall miss you greatly.”
In the meantime, spend 10 minutes in silence (and awe) with Flash’s “Lifetime”: