Greatest Keyboard Player Of All-Time

Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

1
Keith Emerson
I have been a professional musician (keyboard session/studio) and no one comes close to Keith. I see comments about other players like he can play two keyboards at one time... My dog can play two keyboards at one time. Wakeman's left hand is no where near the dexterity or speed of Keith's in the day. Keith played contrapuntal leads, when no one else did and most couldn't. So let's start the list over with Keith at number's one and two. One for his right hand and two for his left, and then let's proceed.
I have seen all the great Rock keyboardist and literally there is Keith Emerson and all the rest. The greatest technical player, Hell he plays complex Bach pieces with a 200lb organ on top of him upside down! REALlY!

His piano playing is extraordinary, but his mastery of the Hammond Organ is absolute Genius. Not mention he innovation with synthesizers.
Just listen to the the end of "Fugue" in the middle of "The Endless Enigma". Incredible piano piece followed with a wonderful synth flurry. Should always be number 1.
[Newest]Jordan rudess should have this position... Not Keith...
More comments about Keith Emerson

2Rick Wakeman
Not only was Rick a pioneer in keyboard playing - he's still got incredible talent and can deliver top-quality music live. The same cannot be said for Keith Emerson who, while once an awesome exponent, is not longer able to match his earlier capabilities. I know this is largely due to a physical condition with nerve damage to his hand, but we have to rely on his past performances. Rick is still up there - brilliant after such a long career.
While Rick & Keith are of similar talent, Rick's catalogue of compositions seems a little deeper. Physical dexterity & speed are difficult to argue now... Both have paid a heavy price from years of playing... Keith had to have an operation on pinched nerves in his right elbow... No info getting from his brain to his 4th & 5th fingers... Not much improvement after... In performance I still see those two fingers curled under most of the time. All of us have our bodies betray us eventually. It's like fighting over Mozart vs Beethoven.
Rick is loaded with talent, and is by far the greatest keyboard player to ever live. Sorry Keith Emerson, but once gaining a bunch of attention by acting like a wild nut on stage does not compare to the true talent, and pure musicianship owned by none other than the keyboard wizard... The caped one... Mr. Rick Wakeman. Rick's compositions are very inspiring and still very popular today. Rick continues to perform at his high standard, and owns the title "Best Keyboard Player to Live."
[Newest]Six wives of Henry the 8th...

3Yoshiki Hayashi
The greatest keyboard player of all time!
Yoshiki Hayashi you are the best keyboardist... Yoshiki Hayashi makes look playing keyboard so easy... But in real its not an easy task... Yoshiki Hayashi you're the best
The greatest pianist, drummer, composer all time. His creations range from classic, orchestral pieces to heavy metal song.

kurotenshi

Yoshiki - an angel on piano and a beast on drums. Simply the best!
[Newest]God of keyboard and drum

4Jordan Rudess
the people who didn't vote for him (or other great keyboardist), voted for a stupid the keyboardist from an stupid band like X Japan; one of the most overrated bands in TheTopTens....

by the way, ALL the members in DREAM THEATER are great: James LaBrie has a really awesome voice, John Petrucci is a real shredder who always gives a great feeling to his solos, John Myung has a great power for the bass, Mike Portnoy is one of the greatest drummers ever (to bad he left the band) and JORDAN RUDESS has made great keyboard performances...

rock2metal

Let's be honest here. Technical skill is something that almost EVERY keyboardist on this list possesses. However, what sets Jordan Rudess apart for me is just the true RANGE of things he does with this technique.

From orchestral to ambient, from classical to the prog metal that most know him for, this guy tries to do everything, and almost always succeeds.

Heck, he even goes as far to design new software to bring even further innovation to the keyboard scene.

It's this kind of dedication that truly marks a legend in music.
truly a Versatile Keyboard player, graduated from juilliard, he is in my opinion one of the best keyboard players, he has so much technique and so much versatility in his playing, he can literally play just about everything ranging from cartoon music to the most complex compositions, not to mention his innovative mind including his new iphone app "morphwiz"
and the use of new tools all the time
[Newest]Hmm he is the best ever
More comments about Jordan Rudess

5Tony Banks
Inspired by the likes of Rachmaninoff and hailed as the 'chord master' by fellow Genesis member Steve Hackett, he has a personal style and some of his traits are now quite popular, such as adding the 4th on a triad on the 3rd inversion. Has always done all the keyboard programming himself and has always had a distinctive sound as well as style which singles him out as an outstanding individual. Quite sensitive to the needs of each piece of music, the overall soundscape has been top priority and virtuosity has been just one of many devices as well as his unique method of using the cross-hand technique. Yes, other can play 'faster' but Tony's passion for his music supersedes technique for the sake of showing off technique. The music's all that matters for Tony so all in all he stands at number 1 in my chart, and always will.
He is not only keyboard player. But melody and harmonics maker.
Tony use his hands and keyboard very effectively, he makes very distinctive chords.. I can recognize his keyboard playing even with only one bar...
He is the mastermind in music compositions of Genesis.
I love Tony Banks' tasteful playing and compositions.
He is considered as the best keyboardist.. although he never expose himself too much.
The keyboard player who isn't just about playing fast. He is a master of melodies, and he also uses a lot of interesting chords. My vote definitely goes to Tony Banks. He defined the sound of early Genesis.
[Newest]Tony is the genius behind Genesis

6Chick Corea
This guy can really play compose and piano and keyboards in classical, jazz and fusion styles. Truly incredibly talented!
He should be much higher on the list, top 3!

7Jonathan Cain
He wrote the parts for When You Love A Woman, Don't Stop Believin, Open Arms, and Who's Crying now. What more do you need?
The best keyboardist ever! He makes Journey happen!
TOP DOG TRIGGER FINGER SMOOTH

8Jon Lord
Jordan Rudess is good, but he can't hold his own against Jon Lord's genius. Also, Yoshiki Hayashi? Really? X Japan is a pretty good band and I like them, but Yoshiki ain't no Ray Manzarek or Jon Lord.

Deep Purple will greatly miss him, as his keyboard parts were an integral part of the classic sound. The riffs sounded better thanks to him.
The greatest keyboard/organ player of all time!

Deep Purple and Jon Lord forever!
My favorite organist! Look at the diversity in playing. Also very fast and mostly very melodic!

9Richard Wright
Definitely should be number one. He mastered keyboards with samplers in the Floyd's early days, (Piper at the gates of dawn, Meddle, etc.. Etc.. ) and then explored new territory with the Synthi A on what are considered their masterpieces:"The Dark Side of the Moon", "Wish you were Here", and "Animals". On top of that he had his own successful solo career. I am saying this not just as a Pink Floyd fan, but as a keyboard player myself, with many other influences, (Billy Preston, Miles Davis, Brian Wilson). As was mentioned in other comments, his modesty is the other half, of what makes him a legend.
P.S. this seems a bit too much, but I'm just a really big fan.
He was a great musician! For example, he learned music alone and never had teacher! His main influence was Miles Davis and "A Kind of Blue". He was the soul of Pink Floyd when David Gilmour was its heart and Waters its brain! He used many new material at the time and showed many habilities into playing Hammond organ, Moog synth, Farsifa, EMS synth, mellotron, ARP and even piano! He also played on many keyboards to obtain the lush introduction of " Shine on you crazy diamond", he used a Leslie effect on "Echoes", used all the keyboards he had on "Sysyphus", wrote "The great gig in the sky" for on organ, he was an influence for many keyboardists including Gong's Tim Blake, Porcupine Tree's Richard Barbieri and even Camel's Peter Bardens! And I can tell you a thousand things about him!
Syd Barret invented Pink Floyd, whereas Rich Wright was the essence, the atmosphere, the aura, the soul. You can realize that on all Floyd's masterpieces, after Barret, the structure of the music is from him. Echoes, A Saucerful of Secrets, Summer' 68, Us and Them, Welcome to the Machine, The Great Gig in the Sky... Top 3 for sure.
[newest]
Simply, Wish You Were Here!

10Ray Manzarek
Ray is the most underrated member of the doors considering he probably the most work (organ, bass, backing vocals). I love his classical Bach-Influenced organ solos and rhodes-basslines that no ordinary bassist could have a hope of playing! And I envy his sideburns!
He is amazing. The fact that he was able to come up with the riff from Light My Fire by just screwing around on the organ for a while is truly incredible.
If you would have spent more time listening to good bands like the doors instead of crappy 1s like x japan you would know that would whip their mostly drummer.

russian

[Newest]Simply the very best. I don't think there can be any two ways about THIS one.

The Contenders

11Peter Bardens
In my opinion composer and an aranger of the best solos and hords in progressive rock history.

12David Bryan
Absolutely the best keyboard and pianist ever, playing since the age of 6, composing musical scores, as well as the writing and composing of songs for Bon Jovi. His interaction with the audience is simply outstanding, he always has a smile for his fans. He is energetic, a true entertainer. He is a gentleman who deserves recognition for his outstanding talent and contribution to music
Easily the most talented keyboardists I have ever heard. And NO not just with his stuff with Bon Jovi.. Also his solo stuff and his music on broadway. This guy is a mega talent who can do anything and play anything he wants... After hearing all his body of work it becomes patently clear it would be a BIG mistake to underestimate or pigeon hole David. He is a legend on the keys pure and simple!
The most talented keyboard player and his able to play multiple keyboards at the same time. His live performance is something very energetic and he contact audience amazingly!

[Newest]Listen to him play, Look at what he has achieved in his career. Need I say more? The best keyboard player/composer, without a doubt.

13Kerry Minnear
Gentle Giant are at the top of over-the-top...
Royal College of Music anyone?
He is number one!

14Tuomas Holopainen
He brings soul to his songs while playing keyboard. Thus may be not the most technical keyboardist, but Tuomas always is my favorite. He is beethoven of contemporain era.
I admire Tuomas because of his multi-talented ability to write catch songs that last a life time and charging forward above and beyond all other keyboard players with his revolutionary beats
He is the driving force for his band and I couldn't see Nightwish withouth him in it. Singers Change and Guitarists may change but Tuomas will always be the best thing that has ever happened to them. Hands down the best Keyboard player ever if not for that alone.
[Newest]The soul of Finnish Symphonic Metal! The most creative at present!

15Tom Coster

16Joe Zawinul
Greatest Jazz keyboard player and a composer of genius.
Weather Report keyboards along with Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra with Correa and Hammer respectively set a bar that has yet to be and questionably ever will be surpassed.

17Dave Brubeck

18Herbie Hancock

19Eddie Jobson
One of the most gifted keyboard player and performers of all time... Also played with Roxy Music at 17-years old replacing Eno... Technically flawless.
Eddie should be in the top three, behind Emerson and Wakeman.
Curved Air, Zappa, UK, Yes, Jethro Tull...

20Janne Wirman
Give me one keyboardist that can play as fast as Wirman. Just listen to Children of Bodom's cover of Slayer's "Silent Scream" or their songs "Kissing the Shadows" and "In Your Face". He's the best shredder on keyboard, no doubt of that.
I love Children of Bodom for the music, all very very talented. No doubt the most talented around at the moment. Janne is incredible, the speed is insane. Duels with lead guitarist Alexi Laiho are impressive. Laiho one of the best guitar players alive also
The best keyboard player of all time just looking at him when he played the keyboard, just one word comes out from mouth awesome. Cob is the only band that have perfect combinations of musicians.
[Newest]Really Hat's off you for the Bed of Razors, Kissing the shadows, shovel knockout. You are really awesome

21Tom Waits

22Elton John
No better rock/pop pianist!
The best in pop rock, no other

23Nicky Hopkins

24Billy Joel
How is Billy Joel not top 5?

Come on this is crazy

To many hits to list jon cain #2 give me a break
Strangest key board list of all time

25Gregg Rolie
IMO, the greatest keyboard player of them all.

26Stephen Devassy
He is one of the best classical - western keyboardist player in india
He is one of the best in india
He is just amazing, his fingers just flow through the piano, truly amazing pianist
[Newest]The best I ever listened

27John Paul Jones
Just listen to his organ playing on Led Zepellin 1 or 2, and you will hear his amazing ability to play the organ

28Rod Argent
Quality keyboardist. Gereat technical ability

29Jens Johansson
His Music is something that you just canĀ't put in words. Speed, Technique, Feelings. And he also explode toilets.
He's a top ten must be!

30Alan Wilder
Downright shame Alan Wilder is placed at 30. Top 15 easy. Depeche Mode isn't Depeche Mode without Alan. Check out the albums Wilder was apart of and you see the major contribution he made not only to Depeche, but to Synthpop/Electronic music.
Watch the live performances with Depeche Mode. You can't even see his fingers cause they're moving so fast.
The True Depeche Mode keyboardist.

31Steve Winwood
In my opinion he should be in the top ten for sure. I think he is one of the most underrated musicians of all time, and this list certainly doesn't help his cause. He can play everything but his keyboard/organ skills are amazing!
Best multi instrument player

32Nick Rhodes
Writes music, unique style. Nick is still in business, with thirty plus years and still going strong.
Best in the business. Also the best looking!

33Mike Shinoda
Mike deserves a plane between 1-10 because he's one of the best mixer as well as a great keyboardist... Have of the Linkin Park's mixing job is done by him and Joe Hahn!... Mike rules!
He is the best keyboardist and works well with samplers and synthesizer. He is a allrounder. A guitarist, keyboardist, Turn tabler... And a long a list! He deserves to be in top 10!
Mike deserves to be in top 10

34Vadim Pruzinhov
he is epic! maybe not as good as the guy from children of bodom though.
DRAGONFORCE RULE!
OBVIOUSLY THE BEST KEYBOARD PLAYER. MAN! HE HAS SPEED, TECHNO, TIMING, MELODY AND EVERYTHING ONE NEEDS TO BE THE BEST.
NO OTHER KEYBOARD PLAYER CAN EVER BEAT VADIM.
HE IS SIMPLY THE BEST.

35Dave Greenfield
Just listen to no more heroes and you'll see why he's definitely one of the best keyboardists around. Plus he's a punk keyboardist.
Unique... His sound created by him.. Others followed a trend he went it alone and that's what makes the stranglers what they are today...
If you ever listened to the Stranglers, then you would know he's one of the greatest ever...

36Ronald Jenkees
Ronald Jenkees is very unknown and VERY underrated. He is undoubtedly one of the best of his time. He has his own flow, his own style that is incredible and unique. You can FEEL his music. It touches the soul.

37Freddie Mercury
Freddie should be higher on this list! Take me to The Seven Seas of Rhye!

38Neil Doughty

39Frederic Chopin

40Kiyo (Janne Da Arc)
He has super fast fingers!

41Yanni
The best keyboard player in the earth

42Ludwig van Beethoven

43Ken Hensley
Great keyboardist ranks with Jon Lord as the best in the Heavy Keyboard Department!

44Michael Pinnella
Yes he does deserve to be one of the best ten but people don't even know him.
That's the problem.
Or know him and too stupid to realize.
Probably the most underrated keyboardist.
Deserves to be one of the best ten.

45Benmont Tench
Probably the most underrated keyboard player anywhere. The reason? He doesn't overplay. Just plays what is needed for the song and nothing more.
Listen to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and tell me this guy isn't top 5

46Billy Preston
Billy Preston (the only musician to work with both the Rolling Stones "Sticky Fingers" & the Beatles "Let it be") has more soul than any other keyboard player I've heard. Take a listen of "that's the way god planned it" from George Harrison's Bangladesh Concert, Just beautiful.
He has played with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton
The music this man played was truely inspired. "That's the way God planned it" is incredible.

47Chris Martin
Greatest pianist of all time. How could there be another choice...
Chris Martin is a master at keyboards and makes beutiful music with them

48Kevin Codfert (Adagio)
The best neo-classical keyboardist.
Listen to anything on the album underworld and you will understand.

deadgrass27


49Franz Liszt

50Billy Powell

51Bernie Worrell

52Richard Clayderman
Are you kidding me? Laugh out loud

53Oscar Peterson
Yeah, I know... Most of you are going "who? " laugh out loud @ some of the people on this list, thanks for the laughs
Without a doubt, he was a major influence to most everyone on this list. In his time, for the style of music he mastered, there is no better piano player.
Yep, no one, NO ONE, can match Oscar Peterson's virtuosity!

54Vangelis
Why in the world this guy is not on this list is beyond me.

55Lyle Mays
Lyle Mays doesn't make even the top 10? Lyle is the true number ONE! The masses as usual do not have a clue. Such an absolute genius & supernaturally gifted keyboard player who has been willingly/happily subject to an even greater gift (Pat Metheny of course) all these years speaks volumes for his love, passion & respect for TRUE music. MVW

56Johann Sabastian Bach
Are you kidding me? Bach shouldn't be in this list. Geniuses should be in a list apart

57Trent Reznor
the founder and only lasting member of Nine Inch Nails, and How To Destroy Angels. He deserves a spot on here for his inspiration to other musicians in the dark, industrial, electro, community and bands.

xaxismusic


58Richard Tee

59Roy Bittan

60Liam Howlett

61Glen Gould
He should be number 1 beside chopin

62Tim Rice-Oxley

63Seth Justman
Absolutely, one of the most accomplished players. He should be in the top ten.
Can't put a number on him or anyone for that matter but Seth justman was author of some pretty tasteful b3 solos and some funk blues infused piano.

64Ray Charles

65Tomo Milicevic

66Bill Paine
Bill Paine of Little Feat has to be one of the top five rock piano players of all time. Incredible virtuosity.
Great keyboard player and band leader. If only you can spell his name correctly. Billy Payne

67Martin Gore
Creativ music composer that can produce beatiful "destroyed" sounds

68Yuhki Kuramoto

69Joe Sample
People if there's anyone that has featured with the world's best Guitar player, George Benson is it this man, very experienced from classical to JAZZ, which is his favourite actually.

70Mark Stein

71Amy Lee

72Mike Pinder
Defined the unique sound of a band (Moody Blues) through arrangement, performance, and technical know-how to an extent no one has with any other band.
He is truly amazing.

73Kiki Djan
Best of the best

74Martin Hedin

75Stevie Wonder
Number 72? Are you kidding?
I agree... Stevie Wonder at 73?... How about 3? George Duke, Chick Corea, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, The Pink Floyd guy, Herbie Hancock and Stevie were all out front with the synthesizer movement of the 70's

76Don Airey
95? Come on. Don has played with some of the best bands in the world!

77Jimmy Smith
Serious? Should be in top 5
His playing on a Hammond B3, timeless!

78Bobby Laquidara
This guy is sublime. He is a phenomenal multi keyboard player. I think he is from the Boston/New Hampshire area.

79Tomita

80Johnny Greenwood

81Liz Story

82Dietrich Buxtehude

83Gary Brooker
An innovative player with Procul Harem who rarely wrote lyrics but created music around them. A super talent who etched lasting memories of his keyboard prowess

84Roger O'Donnell

85Daijiro "DIE" Nozawa

86Jason Freese

87Vitalij Kuprij
This is the best, not these you're wrote!

88Richard Tandy

89Kevin Moore
Dream Theater, Chromakey, OSI

90Matt Bellamy

91Allan Zavod
Keyboardist with Frank Zappa, Jean-Luc Ponty, Glen Miller Orch. Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson,

92Josh Silver
The keyboardist for Type O Negative really understood how this instrument should be played. The atmospheric qualities he brings to his music and his technique are amazing.

93Ashley Ellyllon

94Barry Manilow

95Romel Ali
He is from Bangladesh. Played piano with Air Supply and many other renown bands of the world.

96Kitaro

97Hiromi
Best Keyboard player and musician on Earth today.

98Rick Van Der Linden
Superb keyboardplayer with Ekseption and Trace. Very underrated!

99Chuck Leavell
Played with Allman Brothets Eric Clapton and many other top acts. He is the choice of the best.

100Robert Lamm

Comments About This List

Featured Lists
Popular Lists
New Lists

Top Remixes of This List

2dogs_brew

RaceCarrington

Miljac

Posts About This List

List Info

This list was created 6 years, 135 days ago and has been voted on over 3,000 times. This top ten list contains 121 items, has been remixed 3 times.

Updated Tuesday, December 16, 2014


List Error Reporting

See an item on this list that's misspelled, duplicated, or doesn't belong? Let us know. Click here to report the error.