Overnight reaction to the death of Tommy Banks late Thursday night was swift online.

A statement from his family to The Canadian Press said he died peacefully Thursday. He was surrounded by family at a palliative care unit at the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton.

The Calgary-born performer made a name for himself in music – starting with his professional debut in 1950. He won a Juno and a Gemini award, hosted a number of TV programs, including The Tommy Banks Show from 1968-83, and performed for audiences throughout North America and the world.

He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991, and was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1993.

In 2000, he switched from music to politics when he was named to the Senate by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

As a senator, Banks advocated for 15-year maximum terms for senators, and against appointments by Prime Ministers.

His term as senator ended in 2011, and Banks went back to music. He earned a Juno nomination for the album Legacy Live.

In the hours following news of Banks’ death, a number of messages were posted on social media reacting to his passing, including statements from the prime minister and premier.






Federal Minister Amarjeet Sohi tweeted: “Tommy Banks was a champion for our city and his legacy will continue to be felt for many years to come.”

“The Alberta order of Excellence is so sad that we have lost an iconic member of the Order,” a tweet from the account for the Alberta Order of Excellence said. “Tommy Banks was a truly remarkable Albertan and Canadian. The world has been left a better place because of him.”

Banks left a legacy not just in his music, but in a venue – he was part of the group that helped raise money to build The Winspear Centre.

In his last interview with CTV News, Banks called the hall one of the best in the world.

“This is not just a good hall, this is a great hall, and so all Edmontonians should be very proud of it,” Banks said in the September, 2017 interview.

The Winspear Centre tweeted late Thursday: “It is with great sadness to learn of the passing of The Honourable Tommy Banks. He changed the landscape of the Edmonton music scene and will be forever remembered for his incredible talent & passion.”

The City of Edmonton announced Friday morning that the High Level Bridge would be lit up in blue in Banks' memory Friday night.



The Canadian Press reported Banks’ family said a celebration of life will be announced in the coming weeks.

With files from Dan Grummett and The Canadian Press