Gary Bannister


Our one-of-a-kind friend and bright force left us on Oct. 18 to begin his new journey.
Gary was born on 8/22/49 in Portland, Oregon to Leonard V. Bannister and Ella Mae Brown.  After spending a memorable childhood there, the family moved to Kelso, Wa. in 1960.  He attended Wallace Elementary, Coweeman Junior High, and graduated from Kelso High School in 1967.  With the draft looming, Gary decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy, and served from 1968 to 1971, deploying to Vietnam twice on a supply ship.  While overseas, he enjoyed visiting Singapore, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines.  During his service years, he lived in the Bay area and immediately became influenced by the music and cultural scene there.  Once back at home in Kelso, he attended Lower Columbia Community College and hosted a soul/ r and b radio show at the college.
In 1974, after separating from his then wife, Lynette Boehland, Gary decided to move to Seattle, attending Seattle Central Community College.  He studied piano and music theory with Al Hood, who was a seminal influence.  Thus began his long music career in Seattle, which included:  a stint at Budget Tapes and Records in Ballard; a twice-weekly morning radio show featuring jazz on KRAB FM; Music Director for KRAB FM; concert and record productions with AuRoar Productions at the Seattle Concert Theatre 1979-1981 featuring national avant-garde jazz artists;  writing for Victory Music; co-founding of Earshot Jazz with Paul de Barros, for which he both wrote and produced concerts; teaching a class at the ASUW Experimental College, “The Jazz Tradition: A Listener’s Introduction” for several years; and Artistic Director for Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley for 20+ years.
In recent years, he became re-interested in N. W. vintage sports car racing and it’s history, having attended as a teenager many sports car events with his Dad, who also raced a Fiat Abarth.  Gary documented the SOVREN Vintage races via writing and photography and contributed to Vintage Drift and Victory Lane magazines.  He also contributed material for Martin Rudow’s two books, Long Straights and Hairpin Turns (The History of Northwest Sports Car Racing 1950-1961) and Weekends of Glory (The History of Northwest Sports Car Racing 1962-1970).
Besides jazz and world music, Gary’s world revolved around gourmet cooking, fine wine, travel, photography, Mexican and African folk art, painting watercolors, WWOZ and Volvos.  He was a passionate and loving person of tremendous energy, who treasured his friends and family.  He was trustworthy, forthright, honest, spiritual and a proponent for world peace.
Gary is survived by his wife Rita DeGabriele, sister Sheryl Dixon (Christopher), several cousins and an uncle in the Northwest, and many friends all over the world.  A celebration of life party will be held at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley on Nov. 1st from 6-10 p.m.
Remembrances in Gary’s name may be made to:  The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund – nomrf.org – or The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – leukemia-lymphoma.org -.  We love you and miss you, Gary, our dear amigo, you will stay in our hearts forever.

One Response to “Gary Bannister”

  • Mike Navalinski says:

    Well my good friend, it has been a wonderful,often amazing ride…..I’ll always cherish those many years of Saturday afternoons,spent at your home/homes, spinning tune after tune while analyzing all the crazy shit going on around us in politics, and life in general. Back in 74 you opened my mind to soul music, then on to Little Feat, Allen Toussaint and Weather Report with many stops along the road. We shared a passion for travel-especially to Mexico and we spent hours reliving our journeys throughout that wonderful country, all the while, the turntable spinning to new, if not unusual,beats. Your low-key ego and demeanor to the business of music never revealed the innumerable contributions/impact you have made on the Seattle music scene, mainly because your tastes and objectives went against the grain of main stream popularity and commercialism. Thanks for keeping my ass in line; Even though we were always very different people with occasional contrasting tastes in life, our 36 years of friendship will forever be cherished. Peace out, brother,thanks for all the great effin’memories……Nav

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