Best Rock n Roll Pianists

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The Top Ten

1
Elton John
When Elton is playing he is not from this world. There must be more depth in this human being than any of us can imagine. Simply listen to an older album like 'Madman across the water' or see one of his shows with Ray Cooper. There is profound intelligence in his playing, every single note will be effectively accentuated, he's got so much feeling and even in the midst of the most dramatic pattern there is stillness and space. Never before (and probably never again) will there be a better contribution to modern music. Glenn Gould (classic) and Oscar Peterson (jazz) were also examples for that from where music comes from must not necessarily be this world. But Elton combines it all. In other words, just reduce Elton to his playing, and you would not even need to have him visibly around. His playing is all you need. He won't be in any competition with anybody because he simply can't be compared. All the others mentioned here would quote Elton as being there favorite and they are grateful to have even glimpsed to be simultaneously mentioned in The Top Ten with Elton.
Without a doubt, Elton is the worlds best rock and roll pianist. Even Billy Joel said, and I quote, "Elton kicks my ass on piano. He's fantastic a throwback to Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino and Little Richard. His spontaneous, improvisational playing always challenges me. And that is his contribution to rock & roll and pop: his musicianship. Before him, rock was a bunch of James Taylor's guitar-based singer-songwriter stuff. Elton brought back fantastic piano-based rock. Elton knows what his instrument is capable of. The piano is a percussion instrument, like a drum. You don't strum a piano. You don't bow a piano. You bang and strike a piano. You beat the **** out of a piano. Elton knows exactly how to do that he always had that rhythmic, very African, syncopated style that comes from being well versed in gospel and good old R&B." Nuf said!
I just feel that song writing is a giant part of being a musician. And Billy seems like the obvious better song writer? Billy Joel wrote his song's lyrics too, which puts him on top for me. And his lyrics are just so poetic and smart. Piano Man, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. Only the Good Did Young, Still Rock and Roll to me, and My Life just say so much more lyrically, to me at least, than Your Song, Rocket Man or Tiny Dancer. And It just seems so much more authentic and real to know the singer wrote the lyrics he's singing.
From Joel to Roy Bittan( Springsteen), Leavell, ( Allman Bros. ), Ian Stewart ( Stones ), Steve Winwood ( Cream/Traffic ), Bruce Hornsby, Barrelhouse Chuck, Pinetop Perkins, Piano Red, Rick Wakeman, Jerry Lee, Ben Folds, Dr. John, Stevie Wonder, James Booker, from Blues to Rock to Jazz, each has had their own style.

But for me there are only 3 Genius's who rose above this: because they could play ANY style.
Elton John, Ray Charles and Leon Russell. Ray has passed away, Leon although still great is slower and older now. So Elton John deserves his place. He has earned it. A true genius in every sense of the word, and the hardest working piano player in rock music. One problem, he will still need to live up to this on future studio and concert performances. For me he is "The King" of The Keyboard".
Thanks for recognizing Leon. Others are obviously great choices but I think he's often overlooked

Billyv

[Newest]Most talented rock pianist ever ----- Jerry lee Lewis should be higher and Freddie mercury is not a pianist, he can tinker but so can I! He shouldn't even be sniffing this list!
More comments about Elton John

2Billy Joel
How could anyone be higher on the list than the Piano Man himself? Billy Joel masters any style, any genre, and can kick anyone's musical behind. (That's bee-hind, prounounced the redneck way)

The Prelude to "Angry Young Man" has rattled many a pianoplayers brains, not to say cheap keyboards. The bluesy/jazzy intro to "New York State Of Mind" has made many a mediocre pianist sound like God himself when they've found and mastered it through one of those sheet-cheat books. But the wild, crazy, ingenious piano playings on "Summer Highland Falls" is really what makes Billy wander off with the cake, leaving Sir Elton and the others standing gawking with amazement and shame.

And he knows what he's doing too! He's not just some dope who by trial and error finally figured out how to play both hands at the same time; he's written a classical album, and his portrait is hanging in Steinway Hall for Pete's sake, next to Liszt and Rachmaninoff! They don't do that to any schmo who plonks out a few tunes.

The others can hop on their rockets and kill a few more pianos, and leave the Master to show 'em how it's done!
Billy is better than Elton to me due to superior song writing ability. Billy might be able to sing just a little better. Elton might be a bit better of a piano player. And they can both write great musical compositions. But Elton always needed help with writing lyrics, while Billy could write a song all by himself. Billy has also created such an immense range of music, while always filling his albums with good or great songs. It's easier to find a top 20 chart single than a bad song on a Joel Album.
The list is "best pianists" not singers, writers, performers, musicians, or total combos of talents. Pay attention folks. Geez, some of these people would vote for an actor to be President 😜

Billyv

As much as I adore Elton John, Billy is the better pianist. Far more diverse in his styles. Billy can play rock, pop, jazz, blues, soul, and classical with equal ease. His live solos are inspired, and always different. He is also probably the fastest rock/pop pianist on the planet! Amazing talent.

3David Bryan
The most handsome and talented keyboard player in the history of Rock :) A men who plays Mozart to warm up his fingers before a rock concert

stephjovi

Amazingly diverse pianist. Can turn his hand to any genre imaginable. And to have been accepted into Juilliard as a young man is an achievement all of its own.
Love Him! He is my inspiration as a keyboard player... he is the melody in Bon Jovi, wi

4Jerry Lee Lewis
The Killer could hammer hell out of any piano with any part of his anatomy and still sound amazing should be No 1.

PS Some of this list, do you know what rock and roll is? David Bryan, Ben Folds? maybe good pianists, but hardly rock and roll... Fats Domino, Little Richards, see!

thegrumpybadger

david bryan. rlly? wtf. and freddie mercury? omg listen jerry lee lewis's music and then tell me how he's not at least in the top three.

sgilb5

Oh man, Jerry sure can tickle the ivories! He just puts so much emotion and enthusiasm into his piano-playing that it's almost impossible not to dance or sing along. His songs made sure everybody was having fun somehow!
[Newest]Jerry Lee Lewis is number 1 as far as I am concerned.

5Ben Folds
Ben Folds is a brilliant songwriter and a passionate pianist. If anyone deserves to be on this list, he does. From goofy, upbeat arrangements like "Song for the Dumped" and "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces" to heart-wrenchingly honest songs like "Still Fighting It", I'd say the man has far more piano talent (and talent in general) than a man should be allowed to have. Musical genius. Piano genius. Lyrical genius. Humor genius. Genius. Period.
How could he not be on this list? Absolutely the best rock n' roll pianist of our time!

Ben Folds is an amazing musician. I was raised on “rocking’ the Suburbs” and could feel each song’s emotion through my speakers. He also has a great sense of humor. He had the good sense to write a song about his kids, too.
[Newest]Amazing pianist all of his songs were extremely complicated but at the same time they just worked amazingly

6Yoshiki Hayashi
He puts his soul on every music of him. He doesn't just make musics, he creates masterpieces of melodies and emotions.

Far beyond just being a composer or a artist, he can make you cry, make you scream, make you angry, he can make you feel every single emotion he wants to show and use it as a kind of therapy, to heal and to create happiness even when the music is sad, because he can make you live the music and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Yoshiki is amazing musician who inspire us. His music is like a miracle. It heals. And personally Hayashi-san is like miracle. He's legend who influenced strongly on Japanese music scene. Great respect to this wonderful person.
Yoshiki, had he gone classical, would be a virtuoso pianist. He is an amazing pianist and has incredible skill at improvisation as well as at playing pretty much anything in existing works. This man can play Chopin almost better than Chopin himself... and then play something like Art of Life.
[Newest]Yoshiki is by far the best rock pianist. He is a classically trained virtuoso pianist, and his understanding of music is much greater than any of these people.

7Leon Russell
No other Pianist combines rock, rhythm and blues and even Gospel in their playing like Leon. He is an icon and if you were to ask every other pianist on this list, who is the best, they'd more than likely say Leon. It's exactly what Elton John said when he indicted Leon in to the R&R Hall of fame. Another easy way to see where he stands and his legacy, is to see how many Major artist's records he performed on. HUNDREDS! He was the pianist in greatest demand for many many years. Rock on Leon. You are number 1!
Best ever! All others tried to imitate him.
Finding him in the top ten is a nice surprise.

Billyv


8Freddie Mercury
Freddie's style was unique: just listen to "Love of My Life" or "You Take My Breath Away". It is not the technical skill which is impressive, but rather the melody. They are superior to his lyrics, as he said - and he was right.
Yeah, he won. He won our hearts, and he won our souls. With love. He writes piano riffs that let alone make you shocked (on how great they are), his lyrics make it even more powerful. And his voice will just blow you away.
FREDDIE IS THE BEST! Freddie will dominate. All you have to do is listen to one song, and you'll understand. That song is Bohemian Rhapsody, for those who actually have to look.
freddy mercury is awesome, listen to bohemian rhapsody
[Newest]Freddie Mercury does not deserve to be anywhere near the top ten. His ability was nothing special. Hell, I can play anything he could.

9Ray Charles
Even blind he beats many good pianist.
Ray and Rick are best real rock'n roll pianist forever.
Ray is in an elite class of pianists.
In my top 5 of all time.

10Ray Manzarek
By far the most versatile keys player ever. Listen to the Morrison Hotel album for instance... Every single song he's playing with a different sound and style. His playing can do anything to bring you down and dirty with blues to far away lands with songs like Indian Summer. RIP Ray, you're touched my soul... And you're still there.
Ray will always be the best for me. By far the most creative.
Light my fire. Enough said

The Contenders

11Stevie Wonder
Songs on the key of life, enough said...
The man is blind and he plays piano is that not enough

12Richard Wright
Even though he was always the quiet member of Pink Floyd you can truly understand how much he contributed to the band in song such as "Echoes" "Us and Them" and "Great Gig in the Sky" he also added his vocals in much of their music. His songwriting was also flawless even though he wasn't the best lyricist. He truly did much more for the band than what he is given credit for
His playing in Echoes was exceptional. Though hid playing was never on the forefront of Pink Floyd's music it is clear from what we hear from his playing that he was a brilliant artist.
just listen to dark side of the moon and ull agree he must be at number 1
[Newest]Unbelievable skills, especially in the Animals album.

13Billy Preston
Best southern rock pianist. Also responsible for intro to "Freebird" and the stunning solo in the band's version of "Call Me The Breeze. " RIP Billy.

14Little Richard
Watch him in Concert Then make your own mind up
A vamp piano player. In his day he was considered one of the best.
It's just wrong that little richard isn't in the top 10... he's one of the original rock piano players, and ranks higher than this.

15Keith Emerson
Are you kidding me? How is Keith Emerson not number one and Elton John is? Anyone can play crocodile rock but try playing Emerson's Trilogy or Endless Enigma part 1, fugue, and part 2. Keith Emerson is crazy good. If it were me this is how I would rate it...
1. Keith Emerson, 2. Rick Wakeman 3. Billy Joel
I love Elton, I really do, but technically Emerson is a better KEYBOARD musician than 1-12. It's not just about pianos.
Emerson is an phenomenal artist who redefined the rock scene for years to come as one of the definers of prog rock piano.
[newest]
Keith Emerson it's easy

16Rick Wakeman
Seen him in concert numerous times, with Yes, solo, and Anderson-Wakeman. Blows away people like Elton John. Elton John is a megasuperstar who plays piano very well, mostly as accompaniment to his singing. However, he is light years behind Wakeman.
He is the genius who played piano on David Bowie's song Life On Mars which is just fantastic.
Wakeman should be within the top 5. With Yes and his solo career he's created an awesome body of work that Rivals Elton John (almost 30 Albums). It's only because Yes got little radio play and RW got no radio play they are where they R.It's unfortunate that America isn't as intellectual as we came to be. Elton John.. Billy Joel..great players I agree.. But if they had not gotten the radio play.. Where would they be now?.. It's a RUSH-like comparison in ways. (added note: After Rock of the Westies, EJ went total commercial and lost 1/2 his fan base, but picked up the bubble gum rockers from definitely-Lep)

17Tony Banks
Especially early Genesis, Tony's work on songs like Fifth of Firth is amazing

18Jordan Rudess
Simply unbelievable he's not at the list already.
It's terrible that people do not know about Jordan.

19Matt Bellamy
Butterflies and Hurricanes, Space Dementia, Sunburn... Even better, listen to Exogenesis! Simply genius compositions and unbelievable skill
Butterflies ^^ Hurricanes off of their album Absolution, absolutely beautiful, especially the piano solo!
brilliant singer n pianoist listen to neutron star collision

[Newest]Piano thing, need I say anymore


20Chuck Leavell
Brilliant, every time he plays. His solo in Jessica is mind blowing.
Makes every musician that he plays with better--the ultimate band member
In great measure, this is the man that keeps the stones rolling.
[Newest]Great all round player - blues, jazz and good old rock and roll

21Paul McCartney
He can play like no other!

22Dizzy Reed (Guns N Roses)
he is one of the people who developed the epic song November Rain of Guns N Roses with Axl. He had met the original guns n roses lineup in 1985 and he joined the band in 1990s.

ronluna

Never be another song like NOVEMBER RAIN! I got married in November to that song and I still love it! The video is so awesome!

23Garth Hudson
He just made the Bands songs sound even better. He was great and an integral part of their overall sound.

24John Lennon
Crippled Inside. Imagine. Watching The Wheels. A Day In The Life. Jealous Guy. Sexy Sadie. Face it, guys, he's awesome. What can you say? He's not just awesome, he's John Lennon.
I love John but he didn't play piano on Crippled Inside Jealous Guy & I don't think on Day In The Life

25Roy Bittan
His contribution to Bruce Springsteen' music is what makes the Boss music what is it. His skills are unquestionable, he's just the best musician in the E Street Band, and that's saying something. Just so underrated, I don't understand why: Point Black, Racing In The Street, Thunder Road, Jungleland...
And that's only his work with Springsteen, but The Professor has worked with many other like Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, Celine Dion, David Bowie...
Greatest and most underrated pianist of all time. It means something that he was the only member of the esbtheat bruce kept on for human touch/lucky town. Aside from being one of the most talented and important members of the esb, he helped dire straits make their best album in making movies.

Jungleland, Backstreets, Thunder Road, Racing in the street, tunnel of love (dire Straits) to name a few
One of the key members of the E street band. Makes Bruce Springsteen who he is. AMAZING pianist. Just listen to Jungleland!
[Newest]Adds so much to any song in which he plays (Bruce, Bob Seger, etc. )!

26Burton Cummings
After reading many reviews and being a pianist for over 35 years myself, and a drummer for over 50 years, plus a sound engineer, music producer, song writer and vocalist, I'd have to compare Elton John in the same league with Billy Joel and Burton Cummings, as all three write songs, lyrics, and/or melodies, play and sing, and have many number 1 hits on the charts as solo pianists or with a group. Burton Cummings was with The Guess Who, whereas both Elton and Billy typically toured or recorded under their own names, just as did Burton Cummings after leaving the Guess Who. As another person stated, "Burton is Canada's Billy Joel". I have to hand it to Billy though, for writing most all of his own music and lyrics, whereas Cummings and John had some co-writers. Obviously, all three pianists can play any style of music and sing just as well. In another review, the person compared these same three guys as the best of the best. However, he claimed that over all, Burton Cummings was the best vocalist, and Billy, the best pianist, with Elton still being the world's most popular with being "knighted as a Sir" and performing for many Disney movie soundtracks, as well. For me, it's a toss-up. I love all three guys. And there are many other great pianists out there who can also sing - just not quite as versatile as these three. Plus, there are some GREAT female pianists/vocalists, too! Carole King, Carly Simon, Tori Amos, Alicia Keys, and more. Thus, that's just my opinion based upon many other reviews that I have read. I still personally claim Elton, Billy and Burton as the top 3 pianists/vocalists/songwriters of the 20th and 21st Centuries.
Canada's Billy Joel... What more can I say?
When you combine piano, lyrics and voice he slides up to number one.

27Kerry Livgren
I thought Steve Walsh did most of the keyboard stuff for Kansas?

28Serj Tankian
Simply amazing!, go listen to "The Charade" and tell me what you think.
Glad to see him in the top ten! The ending of Chop Suey! is fantastic! (On piano.)

moose4life19


29Bill Payne
If you've ever seen Little Feat live, you know what Bill Paynes "groove' is all about. Feel that New Orleans Allen Toussaint vibe

30Bruce Hornsby
Hornsby is a far more accomplished pianist than any other on this list. His versatility and technical prowess shames both Elton John and Billy Joel - both of whom are over rated. Popularity certainly doesn't equate to a musician's true abilities, as is the case for both John & Joel.
Umm... The oversight of the century on this list is Bruce Hornsby! Did you seriously just forget him, or do you think he is not Top 50 material?!
I can't believe that Freddie Mercury is above Bruce Hornsby on piano. Freddie was not a pianist. He can't play that well. Bruce Hornsby should be in top ten. #29! What!
[Newest]Bruce @ #27 undermines this ranking in a big way.

31Dr John

32Nicky Hopkins
How in the world is Nicky this low on the charts? "Edward the mad shirt grinder" one of the very best solos Ever. Thanks Nicky!
Nicky was the go to guy for any supergroup that wanted a Classic Rock album.
Played with the best because he was one of the best. Most of the voters probably
Are not aware of him, he should be top five.
Listen to any Blues/Rock from the 60s and Nicky is there playing away. Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Yardbirds, Stones, they all had him on their albums.
[Newest]Listen to Loving Cup by The Rolling Stones

33Billy Powell
Fast, fun, often beautiful, Billy Powell's piano brought something special to this band of remarkable musicians. Current imposters should just apologize and rename their band.
Free Bird... Call me the breeze... The musicians in Lynyrd Skynyrd are so underrated it's insane.
Just go listen to Tuesday's Gone and tell me he doesn't deserve higher than 30th afterwards.

34Chris Martin
Are you serious... He's so good and not even in top 20... ? :O
Paradise says it all

35Jon Lord

36Mike Shinoda
MIKE SHINODA... What can I say about U... I mean mike is I think the only pianist who can rap n play piano... He is in top 10 list of rappers n pianists so basically mike is amazing... N I can't even believe it that he is on 34th position because he deserves to be on top of the screen because he juz so awesome... JUST SO PHENOMENON... LOVE you MIKE... N LINKIN PARK!
He's quite underrated because of stunning vocals of chester, great sounds produced by the band...
Love Mike! Linkin Park is one of the few bands that keep rock alive nowdays!

37Axl Rose
Axl Rose piano solo and November Rain
It's scary that someone would actually propose that he's n umber one!

38Tim Minchin

39Franz Nicolay
His piano and keyboard skills are off the chart, Pounds away with passion, his solo work is great too he proves he is a great lyricist and singer as well. Songs like Sequestered in Memphis are where he really gets into his zone
Has to be on there. He pounds away at the keyboard and piano like Ben Folds and Jerry Lee Lewis. Listen to any hold steady song for evidence of this.
He pounds away like Ben Folds and Jimmy Lee Lewis and he does it perfectly probably the only pianist who could work in The Hold Steady
[Newest]Love his solo albums why is he not on this list.

40Tori Amos
She was a prodigy in the peabody institute at age 3, bitch can play 2 pianos at the same time side by side. enough said.

41Derek Sherinian

42Ian Stewart
Rolling stone is a blues band!

43George Duke

44Benny Andersson
Completely underrated as a keyboardist. Aside from just great technical skill, he also knew exactly how to get his keyboards to perfectly fit the mood of any song.
Are you kidding me...? He is at place no 39? He is one of the greatest pop piano player in the world. Listen to Intermezzo no1 and you see what I mean...
Yes, Benny is great with piano and synths

45John Paul Jones
Trampled Underfoot! Kashmir! Rock and Roll! come on people led zeppelin


46Amy Lee

47Allan Zavod
He rocks I love it when he plays.

MGDog44


48Rick Davies

49Simon House

50Larry Knechtel

51Theis van Leer

52Ralph Schuckett
Utopia king! This man can play!

caybatha


53kiyo (Janne Da Arc)

54Flea

55Yuhki Kuramoto

56Dennis DeYoung

57Jonathan Cain
Watch Jonathan on the Revelation dvd & you will soon see he's not only great at playing the familiar Journey hits like "Open arms", "Faithfully", & "Whose crying now" but he shows he is also a master of classical piano. Amazing to watch! A great talented pianist of many styles!

58Eric Heath
Eric Heath of the band Columbia Fields... He definitely deserves to be on this list. Although the band may not be that well known, his playing is amazing!
Great player. His piano helps define their music

59Jason D Williams
Better than any of them

60Johnnie Johnson
So underrated and never got the credit he deserved.

61Fats Domino
Much higher on my list. Top 20, in my opinion.

62John Carin

63Mike Pinder

64Patrick Moraz

65Al Kooper

66Eric Troyer

67Isaac Slade

68Steve Nieve

69Paul Griffin
Griffin played piano Dylan's albums "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde"; Steely Dan's albums "The Royal Scam, " "Aja" and "Gaucho"; Don McLean's "American Pie"; the Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout"; Aretha Franklin's "Think"; the Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? "; and on all the albums Burt Bacharach and Hal David made with Dionne Warwick.

70Mark Stein
Vanilla Fudge... Best Hammond B3 out there.

71Thom Yorke
Pianist for Radiohead!
Amazing piano riffs on songs like "everything in its right place".

72Gregg Allman
He was the most important member of the allman brothers who wasn't a guitarist. It wouldn't be called the allman brothers without him.

73Bob Seger
Worth a mention at least?

74Randy Newman
Completely underrated. Has written songs like "You've got a friend in me", "I think it's going to rain today", "sail away" and so many more.
In my opinion he's better than Elton John because of his genius humor accompanied by the marvelous piano playing that is not as generic and - hate to say this - uninspired as Elton John's comping. Give him a listen!
The genius behind Mama Told Me Not to Come and Short People.

75Mika

76Hargus "Pig" Robbins
Check him out, a proper pianist Not a tinkler.

77Gary Wright

78Peter Allen
Great singer/songwriter/pianist that was the 1970s version of Cole Porter.

79Neil Sedaka
Accomplished classical pianist from Julliard School of Music. Decided to play rock n roll and become a songwriter. Thank God he did!

80Allan Toussaint
New Orleans sound. One of the best, in my opinion.

81Richard Manuel

82Floyd Cramer

83Mickey Gilley

84Donald Fagen

85Charly Garcia

86Lee Michaels
Great talent, great shows

87Tuomas Holopainen
Nightwish's musics are filled of great pianos solos.

88Cat Stevens

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This list was created 7 years, 158 days ago and has been voted on over 2,000 times. This top ten list has been remixed 6 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Saturday, March 28, 2015


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