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.

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.

There is not even a question possible on this. Glad others concur. In addition to the prodigious talent, his ability to work across instruments simultaneously is something to see. A league by himself, is Keith.

A fave and one of the best!

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2Richard 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.

Utterly legendary

V14 Comments
3Jon 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

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

One of the best ones. We miss him.

V3 Comments
4Ray Manzarek (The Doors)

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...

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.

The music that he created is not only pleasurable but also creates a particular color in our subconscious mind and indescribable combination of feelings of euphoria and melancholy. Manzarek is unsurpassed keyboardist and my great role model.

He was first real electric keyboardist in rock!

V11 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.

V5 Comments
6Rick Wakeman (Yes)

He is just a magician with his hands. A virtuose. A great composer too, although here we vote for the better pianist. He, Jon Lord and Ray Manzarek are the best. Although I think of Lord and Manzarek as batter musicians, because their orchestration skills are better, Rick is the top notch pianist of them all. Lord is the maestro, Ray is the pioneer and the dreamer and Rick is the VIRTUOSO

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.

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

V9 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.

V3 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

V1 Comment
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.

If anyone's heard live versions of Thank You, this guy would be in the top 5, or at least higher than Freddie Mercury. (Nothing against Freddie, but this guy was better)

V1 Comment
10Patrick Moraz (Refugee, Yes)

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

V1 Comment

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!

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

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

Deserves the top spot - bobbythebrony

V1 Comment
12Eddie Jobson (UK)
13Dick 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

There is no other like Him Dick was the, that's probably why Eric clapton choose Dick to play with Him for ten years!

His music will go down in history some day

V7 Comments
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.

My top 5, in no particular order, all are great for different reasons:Elton JohnRick WakemanKeith EmersonBilly JoelDennis DeYoung

V1 Comment
16Steve Winwood (Traffic)
17Thijs Van Leer (Focus)

Mad eccentric genius.

18Woolly Wolstenholme (Barclay James Harvest)
19Nicky Hopkins (Rolling Stones)
20Jonathan Cain (The Babys, Journey)
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List StatsUpdated 14 Feb 2016

800 votes
71 listings
4 years, 204 days old

Top Remixes (5)

1. Richard Wright (Pink Floyd)
2. John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
3. Freddie Mercury (Queen)
MontyPython
1. Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)
2. Brandon Flowers
3. Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
CastlevaniaFanboy128
1. Keith Emerson (ELP)
2. Rick Wakeman (Yes)
3. Tony Banks (Genesis)
williammorrison123

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