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!
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".
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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 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!
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.
Same as the others, I LOVE Elton John, but Billy is really fantastic, too. Billy's music is more exciting, and it varies more also.
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3Ben Folds
How could he not be on this list? Absolutely the best rock n' roll pianist of our time!

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.
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.
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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

5Yoshiki Hayashi
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.
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 my hero. This old guy is still like 20 years old and he is so awesome! I wish to be born earlier and know him when he was younger.
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6Jerry 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

A) The guy who first proved the piano can kick a guitar's arse in terms of rockage.
B) Live at the Star Club, Hamburg

There seems to be no consensus as to what the criteria are. Technical skill, performance skills, rocking skills, song writing skills?
Rocking: takes the cake- his energy on the keys is incredible.
Technical: up there, the self-taught talent kind.
Performance: tied with Elton John
Song Writing: behind Elton John and Billy Joel, but rock was at a very different stage of development when he came onto the scene, so it's not quite a fair comparison. His more mature work is more country, so I'm not counting it. I'd give him a buy here.

In my humble opinion overall he tops everyone in the top 5.
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7Freddie 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
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8Stevie Wonder
Songs on the key of life, enough said...
The man is blind and he plays piano is that not enough

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!
Best ever! All others tried to imitate him.
Five decades and still going strong.
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10Ray Manzarek
Ray will always be the best for me. By far the most creative.
Light my fire. Enough said
Manzarek can be credited with making keyboards a viable lead instrument in hard rock music.
Making ANY instrument noticeable with Jim Morrison as a frontman can be considered quite an accomplishment.
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The Contenders

11Richard 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
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12Ray Charles
Even blind he beats many good pianist.
Ray and Rick are best real rock'n roll pianist forever.

13Little Richard
Watch him in Concert Then make your own mind up

14Billy 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.

15Tony Banks
Especially early Genesis, Tony's work on songs like Fifth of Firth is amazing

16Jordan Rudess
Simply unbelievable he's not at the list already.
It's terrible that people do not know about Jordan.

17Keith 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
Emerson is an phenomenal artist who redefined the rock scene for years to come as one of the definers of prog rock piano.
I love Elton, I really do, but technically Emerson is a better KEYBOARD musician than 1-12. It's not just about pianos.
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18Paul McCartney
He can play like no other!

19Chuck Leavell
Makes every musician that he plays with better--the ultimate band member
Brilliant, every time he plays. His solo in Jessica is mind blowing.
In great measure, this is the man that keeps the stones rolling.
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20Matt 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

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21John 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.

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!

23Kerry Livgren
I thought Steve Walsh did most of the keyboard stuff for Kansas?

24Serj 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


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!
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26Bill Payne

27Bruce 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!
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28Rick Wakeman
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)
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.
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29Nicky Hopkins
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.
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!
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30Billy 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.
Billy Powell makes piano playing sound like
It's effortless. It's just an extension of himself
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31Chris Martin
Are you serious... He's so good and not even in top 20... ? :O
Paradise says it all

32Jon Lord

33Derek Sherinian

34Mike Shinoda
Love Mike! Linkin Park is one of the few bands that keep rock alive nowdays!
He's quite underrated because of stunning vocals of chester, great sounds produced by the band...

35Franz 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
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36Tim Minchin

37Ian Stewart

38Benny Andersson
Now here is one cat that can rock man he has got the vote from kiwiland::
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...
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.

39Axl Rose
It's scary that someone would actually propose that he's n umber one!
Axl Rose piano solo and November Rain

40George Duke

41John Paul Jones

Trampled Underfoot! Kashmir! Rock and Roll! come on people led zeppelin


42Amy Lee

43Allan Zavod
He rocks I love it when he plays.

MGDog44


44Burton Cummings
Canada's Billy Joel... What more can I say?
When you combine piano, lyrics and voice he slides up to number one.

45Tori 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.

46Simon House

47Larry Knechtel

48Theis van Leer

49Ralph Schuckett

Utopia king! This man can play!

caybatha


50kiyo (Janne Da Arc)

51Flea

52Yuhki Kuramoto

53Garth Hudson

54Dennis DeYoung

55Jonathan 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!

56Eric 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!

57Johnnie Johnson
So underrated and never got the credit he deserved.

58John Carin

59Mike Pinder

60Patrick Moraz

61Al Kooper

62Eric Troyer

63Isaac Slade

64Steve Nieve

65Paul 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.

66Mark Stein
Vanilla Fudge... Best Hammond B3 out there.

67Thom Yorke
Pianist for Radiohead!
Amazing piano riffs on songs like "everything in its right place".

68Jason D Williams
Better than any of them

69Gregg 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.

70Bob Seger
Worth a mention at least?

71Randy 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.

72Mika

73Rick Davies

74Fats Domino

75Hargus "Pig" Robbins
Check him out, a proper pianist Not a tinkler.

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This list was created 6 years, 313 days ago and has been voted on over 2,000 times. This top ten list has been remixed 4 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Saturday, August 30, 2014


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