Hugh Banton

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Hugh Banton
Hugh Banton.jpg
Hugh Banton, organist with Van der Graaf Generator
Background information
Birth name Hugh Robert Banton
Born April 1949 (age 66)
Yeovil, Somerset, England
Occupation(s) Organist, organ builder
Instruments Organ, bass guitar, bass pedals
Years active 1968-present
Associated acts Van der Graaf Generator

Hugh Robert Banton (born April 1949, Yeovil, Somerset[1]) is a British organist and organ builder, most widely known for his work with the group Van der Graaf Generator.


Banton was born into a musical family, where his father played the piano and his mother regularly sang along to music on the radio. He first started playing the piano at the age of four, and was later influenced by the music on Radio Luxembourg. In his teens, he liked both rock 'n' roll and classical music, [2] and later studied piano and organ at Wakefield Cathedral, whilst attending Silcoates School in Yorkshire under Dr Percy G. Saunders. He then trained as a television engineer at the BBC before joining Van der Graaf Generator in May 1968 when the group (then consisting of just Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith) moved from Manchester to London.[3] In performance with this group he played Farfisa and Hammond organs, adding a wide range of effects including phasing, tape echo, distortion and overdrive. He later modified a Hammond E112 organ to allow separate amplification, with different effects, of the output from the two keyboards and pedalboard, and added a remote reverb unit. He also played piano and bass guitar on recordings.

In 1975 he began building a custom organ based on a Hammond but with added electronic oscillators to closely approximate a full pipe organ sound, with bass notes down to 16 Hz played through 24-inch subwoofers.

Banton left Van der Graaf Generator at the end of 1976 to work on the development, design and installation of electronic church organs for the Makin Organs company in Oldham, Lancashire. In 1992 he set up The Organ Workshop, at Lymm in Cheshire. His organs use digitally generated waveforms to emulate the sound of pipe organ stops, and a recent speciality is combining digitally generated organ stops within conventional wind-driven pipe organs, to create a larger hybrid instrument. His company have installed organs of all sizes both in the UK and abroad.

He has continued to contribute to recordings by former members of Van der Graaf Generator, and a reunion of the group in 2005 that continues as a trio with Peter Hammill and Guy Evans.



  • J.S. Bach - The Goldberg Variations (organ) (2003)
  • Gustav Holst - The Planets (organ) (2009)

Van der Graaf Generator[edit]

Other Collaborations[edit]


  1. ^ Christopulos, J. & Smart, P. (2005), "Van der Graaf Generator - The Book" (Published by "Phil and Jim") ISBN 0-9551337-0-X, page 17
  2. ^ "Interview with Hugh Banton by Tim Locke". 5 October 2001. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Christopulos, J. & Smart, P. (2005), "Van der Graaf Generator - The Book" (Published by "Phil and Jim") ISBN 0-9551337-0-X, page 18

External links[edit]