Best Rock n Roll Pianists

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The Top TenXW

1Elton 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 ...more

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

He shouldn't be #1 but he does deserve to be very high on this list. He's a legend hands down. Don't even try to deny it!

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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 ...more

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. - 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.

Better than Elton but not by much. Classical training shows through. He's a genius!

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3Jerry 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!

There is not a pianist on this list who would consider themselves better than Jerry Lee Lewis.

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4David 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

5Freddie MercuryFreddie Mercury was born in Stone Town, Tanzania he later became a British singer, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. Before he became a singer he has been ...read more.

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

He wrote amazing songs and riffs honestly he should be number one I'm not a huge Queen fan but god he's amazing. Just listen to killer queen, seven seas of rhye, never more, fairy fellers master stroke millionaire waltz

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6Ben 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! -

He makes the piano truly cool, and is very dedicated to perfecting his art. Every piece he is well-constructed and well-executed.

You can listen to just the piano part of most of his songs and it holds up as a song. Most of the other great talents on this list the piano part alone does not hold up.

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7Ray CharlesRaymond Charles Robinson, professionally known as Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer.

Even blind he beats many good pianist.
Ray and Rick are best real rock'n roll pianist forever.

Ray is complete when he's with his piano. Nobody's piano playing has the soul and emotion that comes out of Ray's keys when he plays.

Rock n roll pianists aren't being named here. Ray, Jerry lee lewis, little richard, fats Domino. - Beatlesboy9

Ray should be way higher

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8Yoshiki HayashiYoshiki Hayashi is a Japanese musician, songwriter, composer and record producer. Better known by his stage name Yoshiki, he is best known as the leader and a co-founder of the heavy metal band X Japan, for which he is the drummer, pianist and main songwriter. The band achieved breakthrough success ...read more.

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.

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.

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9Leon 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!

His signature sound is apparent in all of us his backup of hundreds of artists and groups from the Beach Boys to Frank Sinatra. He's still a great showman.

A Song For You is one of the most recorded tracks in the history of modern popular music. However, it is in his readings of classics of blues like Prince of Peace, Delta Lady and Como on in my Kitchen that Leon releases his all. More recently, try listening to Gone to Shiloh and be touched by its deepness.

Leon should be third or fourth on the list, no question

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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.

The Doors didn't need a bassist thanks to the brilliant skill of this keyboardist. Definitely deserves to be higher up this list.

The Doors was the BEST band ever

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The Newcomers

?Boom Gaspar

The Contenders

11Billy Preston

You guys are getting Billy Preston confused with Billy Powell. Billy Powell is the pianist in Lynyrd Skynyrd, who had really good piano solos in songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Tuesday's Gone" and songs like that. I'm sure Billy Preston is a good pianist too, but I don't know him that well but I do know he's not in Lynyrd Skynyrd!

Played with john Lennon, Elvis...top notch

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.

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12Stevie WonderStevland Hardaway Morris, known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist.

Songs on the key of life, enough said...

The man is blind and he plays piano is that not enough

13Richard WrightRichard William "Rick" Wright was an English musician, composer, singer and songwriter. He was the main keyboarder for the psychedelic and progressive English band, Pink Floyd.

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

It was the best pianist of all the planet

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14Fats Domino

Much higher on my list. Top 20, in my opinion.

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15Rick Wakeman

I have been a fan of Yes for about three years now, I believe. It took me until just this year, however, to start paying attention to each musician individually. Before, Yes was just some good listening; now, they're an opening to the height of musical genius. My mom and I call them the classical composers of modern times for a reason, and Rick is nothing short of the greatest (if not THE greatest) keyboardists I have ever heard. Wonderful, fluid technique, flawless style and speed, Rick is definitely someone I would pay a small fortune to see.

In terms of his virtuosity, precision and speed, he is second to none. In addition, he is a great composer, arranger and is in great demand as a session musician. " One Take Wakeman " is in a class by himself.

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.

Incredible talent enough said.

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16Little Richard

He should definitely be around the first top 5. A shame this pioneer, the architect of rock and roll... is not any higher. I'm 17 and I say this. His piano playing came first before Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard had such a strong vocal range. If you heard his stuff in the 70s and 80s, you's hear his huge gospel influences as well as other genres that make him incredibly unique. He was an inspiration to so many, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and Elton John. You can't diss a legend like this. At least make him in the the 10 guys, the man knows how to rock and roll and move those fingers! If you've seen him live you'd get it.

Watch him in Concert Then make your own mind up

Should be hire. He is the piano rocker all the others try to be like.

HE SHOULD BE #1! A true legend, pioneer...

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17Paul McCartney

Paul is a superior pianist and deserves nor respect for his piano playing I have think billy Joel Elton John and Freddie Mercury are the only players are better than him

The Queen / Beatles die hards have got to step down a little. Just because the Beatles and Queen were great bands doesn't mean Paul McCartney and Freddie Mercury were great pianists...

Give me a break. Paul's a great musician but his piano playing is average at best.

I agree that the only better players than him are Freddie Mercury and Billy Joel and Elton John

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18Keith EmersonKeith Noel Emerson was an English keyboardist and composer. Emerson played in a number of bands before he found his first commercial success with the Nice.

Taking all things into consideration, Keith Emerson has established himself as one of the premier piano players in any genre throughout the 20th century. If we were honest, we'd have to say that not only can he play circles around everyone on this list, but his composition output far outweighs those of mediocre pop stars such as Elton John and Billy Joel. He's really in a league far above popular music in general, and therefore needs to be on a more intelligent list with the likes of Glenn Gould and Arthur Rubinstein.

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.

Keith Emerson is The King!

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19Jordan RudessJordan Rudess is an American keyboardist and composer best known as a member of the progressive metal/rock band Dream Theater and the progressive rock supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment.

Probably one of the best out there, even though his roots are classical and progressive he should easily be in the top 10

Simply unbelievable he's not at the list already.

It's terrible that people do not know about Jordan.

20Jon LordJohn Douglas "Jon" Lord was an English composer, pianist, and Hammond organ player known for his pioneering work in fusing rock with classical or baroque forms, especially with Deep Purple, as well as Whitesnake, Paice Ashton Lord, The Artwoods, and The Flower Pot Men.

Jon lord rocked the than on highway star. Awesome keyboard dude.

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List StatsUpdated 27 Jul 2016

3,000 votes
102 listings
8 years, 280 days old

Top Remixes (8)

1. Elton John
2. Billy Joel
3. Ray Manzarek
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1. Elton John
2. Leon Russell
3. Ben Folds
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1. Elton John
2. Billy Joel
3. Little Richard
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