The English organist and organ builder, Hugh Robert Banton, listened in his childhood (the 1950's) to music on the wireless (which he occasionally took apart), and picked out tunes by ear on the piano before starting piano lessons at the age of 7. He studied piano and classical organ at Wakefield Cathedral, whilst attending Silcoates School in Yorkshire under Dr Percy G. Saunders (and put radios and tape recorders together). He then trained as a television engineer at the BBC.
In May 1968 hugh Banton joined the rock music innovators Van der Graaf Generator as an organ player. 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.
Hugh 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.
Hugh Banton 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.
His solo discography includes: J.S. Bach: The Goldberg Variations (organ) (2003); Gustav Holst: The Planets (organ) (2009).