10 Greatest Rock Keyboardists / Pianists

Keyboardists were chosen for their skill, creativity, influence,
impact, musical depth & expression, and lasting popularity in 'Rock' music.

The Top TenXW

1Keith Emerson (ELP)

HOW IS FREDDIE MERCURY (great singer but not a very good pianist) ABOVE THE KING OF THE KEYBOARD HIMSELF! Seriously just listen to karn evil 9, tarkus, take a pebble, the three fates, the endless enigma & hang on to a dream and you'll see why he's easily the greatest keyboardist of all time. You ask any keyboardist and they will tell you he is easily the greatest keyboardist/pianist of all time. Plus he obviously influenced jordan rudess, if you listen closely there's snatches of tarkus in his playing.

It's quite obvious that not very many people here have ever listened to Emerson, Lake, ^^ Palmer, because if everyone here did, I honestly think he'd be #1. It should be: Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord, Ray Manzarek, Steve Winwood, ^^ Richard Wright at the top.

The greatest Rock keyboardist, and with very little competition. "Karn Evil Nine", The Piano Concerto, "Tarkus", "Three Fates", "Take a Pebble", "Fugue", "Blues Variations" (or anything of Pictures at an Exhibition for that matter), the man is a monster.

Keith is obviously the best keyboard player EVER!

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2Jon Lord (Deep Purple)

It was a rare alignment of the solar system, somehow, Deep Purple had the greatest keyboardist (Jon Lord) the greatest lead guitarist ( Ritchie Blackmore) and one of the greatest lead vocalists ( Ian Gillian) of all time...

Great hands, Great composer, amazing soloing abilities and most of all, his organ has a distinguished sound that tells him apart from other Keyboardists

Technique, feeling, composition, improvisation: Jon Lord had them all. Jon's work with DP is enough to put him on top. Add the orchestra masterpieces and there is no discussion any more.

Jon could play it all, he matched every guitar solo by blackmore, and that says a lot.

V6 Comments
3Ray Manzarek (The Doors)

There are many amazing organ players in this list, all of them capable of composing and creating great music. Most of these artists were of the proggressive rock era and they were keyboard gods in their own right. However if you ask me ray manzarek deserves more credit and deserves to be higher on the list. The reason for that is not only was he able to create some of the greatest solos and riffs of rock (light my fire, when the musics over, love street, downbound train etc. ) that are beautiful enought to rival the best of the prog rock I believe he had something besides amazing solos. First of all nearly all of that doors sound was built on his organ work. The thing about that is that while many other artists did similar things I believe simply being able to do what he did with Jim Morrisons lyrics is more than enough. I mean his work and morrison's lyrics go so well together and I doubt anyone else would succeed like he did. He created a psychedelic sound unlike anything else of that time, or the sound of today. His work both enpowered the beautiful lyrics of Jim Morrison, and also created a psychedelic experience that is unique. It was not shadowing the lyrics, but was very noticable as well. It was simply just what was needed and that level of musical understanding and psychedelic sound is something not really easy to obtain. I wont even speak about his left hand bass lines which drove the song or his amazing solo work. Peace ^^

Ray should be waay upper. The way he combined the renaissance music with rock to create one of the biggest psychedelic experiences. The Doors were about three things: Astonishing vocals from Morrison, weird Robby Krieger solos, and, most of all, Manzarek's keyboards. A very intelligent musician, you just listen to Break on Through, or Light My Fire, or The End. Also he wrote great compositions.

Ray deserves much of the credit for the Door's success. Ray was classically trained and he fused the unique style of the doors. He played bass with keyboard to help keep time with his left hand while he completed the beat with his right hand. Ray is unique and underappreciated among keyboardist's...

He was first real electric keyboardist in rock!

V15 Comments
4Richard Wright (Pink Floyd)

Wright practically invented the combination of sound effects and music into something never since rivaled, great gig in the sky, and various keyboard and effects throughout pipers at the gates of dawn are more than enough to rate him as the single greatest innovator of all time, especially considering his work integrating surround sound at the Games of May

How can I say.. Richard was that piece of paper that Gilmour, Waters and Mason were performing and writing their notes. HE was creating all the atmosphere behind, that background filled with hidden keyboad notes. Richard was as important as Gilmour and Waters. Plus, he was much more dedicated to the band that them, and never went to court for song rights. Anyway, I think he deserves better ranking. This is unfair.

Roger writes great lyrics, Nick is amazing at percussion, David is one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Syd was an amazing innovator, but the true Pink Floyd sound came from this man. Rick Wright wrote amazing melodies and created awesome effects and textures that made Pink Floyd shine above other rock bands. Also he is very underrated as a singer.

Pink Floyd, featuring Moses on keyboards

V16 Comments
5Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)

Composes classical music, invents/creates both new electronic instruments and software packages... AND plays as well as anyone who has ever stroked the electric keys... Listen to your favorite keyboardist and THEN check out some of the videos online of Jordan playing... And weep... 0)

Rudess is a monster. He's fast, technical, melodic and will do things with a keyboard that will put a smile on your face. He's crazy, but also a complete genius in this field. Emerson might be your hero, but Rudess will always be the God of Keyboards.

Rudess is a complete genius! No one can even match his technical ability! He is the number 1 for sure!

Rudess is one for sure.

V9 Comments
6Rick Wakeman (Yes)

This was close between Kieth Emerson and Rick Wakeman for me. But I am listening to Rick's version of Starship Trooper of his Fields of Green. Amazing. Keith's new version of Fanfare for the Common Man of his Three Fates Project is a close second.

I think that Jon Lord is better than Tony Banks by a little but these guys are all great the only problem I have is that I'd put Ray Manzarek above Jordan Rudess but nonetheless this is a near perfect list.

The undisputed king of all keyboardists. Just listen to his solos. Masterfully crafted and lots of them improvised!

No explanation needed. The best and brightest. Hands down.

V12 Comments
7Tony Banks (Genesis)

Too many people vote with their hearts and not with their minds. Tony Banks IS the quintessential keyboardist in rock music. Volumes could be written on the man. He has an understanding of music and all its various and sundry components, and translates it in a way that makes ones tears runnel down their cheeks, cascade off their chin, and pool upon the floor. It is a true privilege to watch the Master at his work.

A very tasteful and underrated player - more of an ensemble player than your average Prog keyboardist, some of his work in Genesis (both in the Gabriel and Collins era) is magnificently intelligent and professional.

Better songwriter than Emerson, including #1 prog masterpiece, Firth of Fifth.

Tony Banks is a mastermind and his keyboard solos are easily the best in prog rock history.

V7 Comments
8Freddie Mercury (Queen)

Top 2 in vocals now top 3 in piano ¿
I can say that Freddie is a great musician who ever live before. Id like to learn to play piano too and try to play bohemian rhapsody first...

Mr Mercury's top ten should be for best voices in Rock and Roll or Best
Rocked unitards ever, until David Lee Roth wore his

9John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)

In the light, your time is gonna come, no quarter and somethin' else (Eddie Cochran cover). These are just a few examples of jonsey's genius.

10Patrick Moraz (Refugee, Yes)

Exceptional contribution in Yes album Relayer and great talent live in the Relayer tour. Made us nearly forget about Rick!

The Newcomers

?Doug Ingle (Iron Butterfly)
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The Contenders

11David Bryan (Bon Jovi)

Are you kidding me. He plays 5 keyboards at a time and improvises each show! Amazing technique and playing. Plus Memphis is a piece of work. I dare anyone to play that piece as well as him as well some other piano versions of the full rock band songs!

You gotta be kidding me. He should be in the top 7. He is the package. Bon Jovi is a great band and he has such a chemistry with richie and tico. Creates songs. Hits the solo instead of sambora
David is the best in the world

I love to hear David Bryan play the keyboards. He's awesome!

Deserves the top spot - bobbythebrony

V5 Comments
12Dick Sims

Dick Sims is certainly THE BEST! His playing is styled impeccably and he was a natural from birth. I don't see Dick as number 20 on here! He is the ONLY NUMBER ONE... THE BEST OF THE BEST! Dick could play anything beautifully. I could hang on every chord and float in the clouds listening... Yes it's DICKEY SIMS!

Dick Sims had the feel for the keys like no other! Eric "Slow Hand" Clapton was lucky to have him as long as he did! R.I.P. dick Sims

The best I have ever heard. Also great song writer.

His music will go down in history some day

V11 Comments
13Eddie Jobson (UK)
14Dave Greenfield (The Stranglers)

Seriously under rated keyboard player. Heavily stylised, very much in the mould of Ray Manzarek. Seriously adept at extended solo runs up and down the keyboard. Take a listen to Down in the Sewer from the first album to get an idea of this man's talent.

15Elton John

This list is comical. Freddie mercury above a twentieth ranked elton, who is unmatched on piano in rock history. Who needs rodney dangerfield for laughs when all I need to do is look up one of these ridiculous lists. !

Elton should be number one if you go by what they said the criteria is but then again does Elton care? He is still at the top of his game, selling out concerts, top 10 CDs while the rest of theses guys on the list are just a footnote and GONE.

I agree, greatest keyboard talent in rock history BAR NONE!

16Steve Winwood (Traffic)
17Woolly Wolstenholme (Barclay James Harvest)
18Thijs Van Leer (Focus)
19Nicky Hopkins (Rolling Stones)
20Jonathan Cain (The Babys, Journey)
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List StatsUpdated 7 Oct 2015

700 votes
61 listings
4 years, 74 days old

Top Remixes (4)

1. Keith Emerson (ELP)
2. Rick Wakeman (Yes)
3. Tony Banks (Genesis)
1. Jon Lord (Deep Purple)
2. Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
3. Richard Wright (Pink Floyd)
1. Richard Wright (Pink Floyd)
2. John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
3. Freddie Mercury (Queen)

View All 4


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