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Guide to the Charles E. Banks Papers
MS 213  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Charles E. Banks Papers
    Dates: 1956-2000
    Collection number: MS 213
    Creator: Banks, Charles E.
    Collection Size: .75 linear feet (1 box + 1 oversized box)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: Bay area blues musician next hit and artist Charles E. Banks (1938-2000) was born Charles Edward Banks in Taylorville, Illinois, December 4, 1938. The Charles E. Banks Papers include assorted biographical material, concert flyers, posters, programs, song lists, club advertisements, entertainment calendars, reproductions of artwork, photographs, handwritten poems, and three audiocassettes featuring Blues on Tap's live and studio recordings.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Charles E. Banks Papers, MS 213, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Dickerson.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Bay area blues previous hit musician next hit and artist Charles E. Banks (1938-2000) was born Charles Edward Banks in Taylorville, Illinois, December 4, 1938 to parents Edward and Grace. His mother, Grace Drasdale, played piano at the local Baptist church, and his father was a day laborer who sang in the church choir. Banks graduated from Taylorville High School in 1956 and joined the United States Air Force. While completing his tour in Spokane, Washington, he met J.J. Malone who taught him to play the electric bass. Banks was given a room to rent at Malone’s home and would take guitar lessons from him on weekends. Together they formed their first band, The Rockers (later the Tops in Blues), playing radio stations, and hospital wards and frequently for Nez Perce audiences across the Idaho State line. After leaving the service, Malone and Banks formed the Rhythm Rockers in Fresno, California, adding C.A. Carr, Calvin Peele, and former rockabilly Troyce Key to the lineup.
    By 1967 Malone, Carr, and Key had left the Rhythm Rockers. In 1968 Banks relocated to Oakland, California, to join Malone, attending college at California State University, Hayward. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geography in 1975, becoming employed as a health worker for the City of Berkeley and continuing to play with Malone. Banks would feature on Sonny Rhodes’ 1977 I Don’t Want My Blues Colored Bright, and the Rhythm Rockers’ albums I’ve Gotta New Car (1980) and Younger than Yesterday (1982). In 1986 Banks formed two bands, The Bluesmen and Blues on Tap, a 1940s-50s-sounding jump band in the Louis Jordan style, which were featured weekly at such Oakland blues venues as Eli’s Mile High Club, The Fifth Amendment and Louis KeeSee’s Your Place Too (previously the Don Barksdale’s Sportsman Club and later The Grove).
    Throughout the 1980’s Banks was active with the Oakland Arts program “Blues in the Schools.” His music career ended in 1989 as the result of debilitation due to spinal stenosis. Banks took up and devoted the last decade of his life to painting, watercolors, and mixed media artwork, exhibiting and winning several awards in international contests for disabled artists with his series The Fish of Charles E. Banks. He passed away on December 20, 2000.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Charles E. Banks Papers are arranged into six series: Biographical material, blues career, the Fish of Charles E. Banks, photographs, poetry and audiocassettes. Biographical material includes various diplomas, business cards and Banks' Parks Air Force yearbook. Banks’ blues career material consists of concert flyers, posters, and programs, song lists, club advertisements, entertainment calendars, and assorted printed material. The Fish of Charles E. Banks series includes Banks’ artist statement, exhibition mailers, juried art show programs and reproductions of artwork. The poetry series consists of eight original poems handwritten by Banks. Included in the photographs are group portraits of Banks in various promotional images and performing on stage, as well as documentation of his visual art. The papers also include three audiocassettes of Charles Banks and Blues on Tap’s live and studio recordings.


    Series I. Biographical material Series II. Blues career Series III. The Fish of Charles E. Banks Series IV. Photographs Series V. Poetry Series V. Audiocassettes

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Banks, Charles.
    Blues (Music)--California--San Francisco Bay Area.
    Blues previous hit musicians next hit -- United States -- Biography.
    Eli’s Mile High Club (Oakland, Calif.).
    Key, Troyce.
    Malone, J.J.
    Sound recordings.

    Related Material

    Key (Troyce) Papers, African American Museum & Library at Oakland
    Malone (J.J.) Audiovisual Collection, African American Museum & Library at Oakland