Best Rock n Roll Pianists
The Top Ten
Sir Elton John was a child prodigy and at the age of 11, he was offered a place at the Royal Academy of Music where he studied for 4 years. His teacher was very disappointed when he decided to leave, indicating he had a future with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He could play advanced classical music, having never heard it before and without sheet music. However, Elton was keen to break into the world of modern music which he did. He can play any genre... rock, pop, jazz, country, gospel, blues, soul, classical et al. In short, he's a musical genius, composing songs in 30 minutes. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics but Elton did the rest, the arrangements, everything and he sang the songs! And his songs are revered, no matter what decade they were written.
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
To tell Elton is the best, you can't just go by his hits. You have to dig into some of his more obscure catalog and listen to his live recordings. The piano playing on songs off his album "A Single Man" and his live performances of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" are outstanding. His piano playing on "Blue Moves" and with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is devestatingly beautiful. And at the live concert in 1988 in Tokyo with Eric Clapton, when he backed Clapton on "Cocaine" and "Layla", he showed off keyboard chops that equal or best all other players. The genius of Elton John is that everything he plays fits the music a perfectly. He definitely shows his complete virtuosity and mastery of the technical side of playing piano, but he doesn't overdo it to an extent that makes the music seem to take a backseat to his showing off. He strikes the perfect balance, and always plays what really fits whatever song he is performing. That's the really where the genius of Elton John that ...more
If you've ever watched Elton play, you know why he is the top of the crop. He simply is like no one else, the power, the passion he is playing with, still making it look so easy. The instrumental parts he's usually adding to songs like "Rocket Man" or "Levon" are straight from another dimension and always a little different to the open ear... Someone mentioned in the comments that he they consider Billy Joel the better musician, because, unlike Elton, he is also writing his lyrics. That would make beady-eyed booze-bird also better than Mozart who also got his libretti from others? Yeah sure. Elton's music will survive the times just like Mozart's did.
Billy Joel is the greatest keyboard player in rock and roll. Period.
One only needs to listen to "Prelude to an Angry Young mna" to be completely wowed by his talent. And, he writes all the lyrics, composes all the melodies, plays piano superbly, and sings. Elton John is great and very listenable, but he, by his own admission, cannot write lyrics. Billy Joel does all of this, and he has the classical training to not only play sublimely, but to pour his heart into his live performances. I just don't think anyone else has the range of talent that Joel seems to toss off so easily. in my humble opinion, he's the best, hands down.
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.
It’s along debate the abilities of Mr. Joel and Elton John, sides holding positions of technical playing skills versus musical capacity and performance, etcetera. However the argument usually comes down the songwriting of the two. Elton John creates the music for all of his hits, but Bernie Taupin is the mastermind behind the fantastic lyrics of his masterpieces. Billy Joel writes to all of his songs the words and music while becoming the soulful performer he is on stage, demanding attention with his passionate vocals and undeniable mastery of musical ideas. While Elton John resonates with classy, piano compositons, Billy Joel in my eyes conveys emotion as a feverant, hungry artist that goes from reflection to statement in memorable contrast and ingenuity that is new and original in every song he writes.
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.
Whether he's pounding the keys or playing gently, or standing on the piano and stomping the keys with his feet, he always sounds great. His playing is full of energy and attitude. There is nobody I'd rather listen to than this rock and roll pioneer.
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!
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!
I understand why some of the others are ranked ahead of Freddie but in 20 years Freddie’s work will still be standing as works of art, perhaps the same will be said of Elton John but I doubt anyone will remember Billy Joel and Jerry Lee Lewis will be no more than a novelty.
Undoubtedly the best vocalist of all time and probably one of the greatest pianist in rock as well. He created some of the most timeless and iconic melodies the planet will never forget. Bohemian Rhapsody, We are the champions, Don't stop me now, Somebody to love. These songs are out or the world and are incomelete without the unparalleled piano played by Freddie on the keys. Man is one of the greatest musicians of all time, if not, the greatest ever!
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.
He was a songwriter who used the piano to create masterpieces of music that will never be forgotten--who else could do what Freddie did?
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!
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.
The title of the Top Ten forum should be "Piano Players That Were The Most Popular and Made The Most Money" - Leon was technically the best piano player. Ask Elton, Billy and the rest. They know
One of the few piano players that can identify as soon as you hear the first few chords.. Truly a unique and talented musician. I smile like a river every time I hear his music.
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.
Even blind he beats many good pianist.
Ray and Rick are best real rock'n roll pianist forever.
Best blues and rhythm and blues pianist to inspire the great rock'n'roll pianists
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!
Definitely not the Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboard player lol, just a guy that wrote and played music for the greatest (not forgetting his own music) He is the only non Beatles member to be credited on one of the band recording : Single :Get Back (The Beatles with Billy 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.
Check out videos with BP and Nat king cole, concert for Bangladesh, and and his own funky band... He was smokin'
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
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
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.
He was so skilled, he played the keyboard melody on one hand, and kept the bassline with the other, for lack of a bassist. He is the sound of the Doors just as much as Jim was. The fact that he's not at least #3 shows how little you all know of rock music.
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.
Ray suffers on this list from the fact he didn't play pop music. His keyboard skills greatly exceed those above him on this list. Look into his solo on Crystal Ship.
Up there with the greats like Billy Joel and Elton John. Folds makes the piano sound like a whole band. He uses every note of the keyboard to his advantage. An extremely underrated performer, songwriter, and piano player. He is easily in the top 10 greatest rock and roll pianists of all time, and that is saying a lot considering the competition.
Ben's songwriting is personal and quirky, but somehow it's so specific it becomes universal. He is an outstanding technical musician, but plays and sings with heart and balls. He can write, sing, play, and compose like a champion. His contribution to music is underrated and deserves recognition. And, he's exceptionally pleasant and kind.
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.
"It doesn't really matter who came before him, because his skill, technicality, speed, and overall ability has surpassed Elton, Billy, Leon, et al exponentially. He can go from classic slower songs like "Brick" or "The Luckiest" to upbeat masterpieces like "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces," "Philosophy," or "Bastard." As far as true piano-rock goes, he is unmatched in his talent.
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, 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.
Elton was always #1 in my book until I was introduced to Yoshiki! It is hard to choose but I have to admit Yoshiki wins. The expression, inspiration, imagination, and talent all go together to give us a great listening experience. Even better when its video!
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.
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.
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)
David Bowie's Hunky Dory! Best album ever! Rick Wakeman did all the piano besides Eight Line Poem, Bewlay Brothers, and Oh! You Pretty Things (which is almost the best piano on the album get wrecked Wakeman)
He also did The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, but that didn't have as much piano.
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.
United States of eurasia. Apocalypse please and Starlight.
Mega intelligent pianinst.
Very professional and precise. Matthew bellamy, in the next few years, will be in the top ten list. He is such talent, he is such gift. Modern day incompatible with anyone. His genius overrules almost anyone in the rock music industry.
Yes, Listen to Isolated system and the exogenesis symhonies.
If you haven't seen Bellamy's work, he is brilliant! Songs like Ruled by Secrecy, Butterflies and Hurricanes, Isolated System, Sunburn, The Globalist, Space Dementia, and Exogenesis are amazing!
Just listen to United States of Eurasia. That song alone is enough to rang Matt amongst the top 10. But there's also Buttetflies & Hurficanes, Space Dementia and of course the 3 part Exogenisis Symphony which he wrote himself.
Although not as famous for his piano skills as the rest, he has the most raw talent. There are many videos of him improvising onstage, check them out.
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...
I agree that the only better players than him are Freddie Mercury and Billy Joel and Elton John
Give me a break. Paul's a great musician but his piano playing is average at best.
Didn't really appreciate his piano playing until later in life. Stellar spirited player.
The man is blind and he plays piano is that not enough
One of the best pianists. He made his instrument sing!
Songs on the key of life, enough said...
Why isn't he higher
Much higher on my list. Top 20, in my opinion.
Just listen to him play, awesome
How is he not higher?!
Should be number 1
Worth a mention at least?
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.
He was the best. The guy could play the instrument upside down behind his back and in almost any position. The only one that could bang the keys like him might be Jerry Lee Lewis but he didn't have the "beat" Little Richard had. Little Richard was also before him time wise. I think racial lines got him blackballed too far down the list. He is pure talent and he sings as well as he plays the piano. Amazing talent. I would have wanted to see him play way more than the others. Elton John and Billy Joel couldn't play upside down or between their legs or behind their backs without missing a step. Man what a showman!
He is one of the creators of Rock N'Roll.. Its just that simple. Plus he took a special kind of music and single handedly transformed the music world along with it.
Should be hire. He is the piano rocker all the others try to be like.
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
Because keith plays keyboard more than piano while Elton john is strictly piano
R.I.P., Keith. Anyone sick of his later ELP bombast may need to listen to his work with the Nice or his "Piano Concerto, No. 1" (on WORKS, VOL. 1). For me, "Toccata" from BRAIN SALAD SURGERY is a rock and roll masterpiece; it and much of the first ELP album are sincere efforts to broaden the range of rock.
RIP Keith Emerson. Can anyone seriously claim that any Rock cat is/was a higher level virtuoso than Keith? I can't think of anybody, and I'm a snooty, Mike Brecker type Jazz tenor saxophonist (and if you know about Mike you know about virtuosity).
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.
I love John but he didn't play piano on Crippled Inside Jealous Guy & I don't think on Day In The Life
I agree, John had more of an outrageous personality that folk listen for (meaningful/stories from an unbalanced mind).
John Lennon is by far the best
I love John Lennon but his is not the best piano player and I don't think he should be this far up on the list
MIKE SHINODA... What can I say about U... I mean mike is I think the only pianist who can rap n play piano... He is in top 10 list of rappers n pianists so basically mike is amazing... N I can't even believe it that he is on 34th position because he deserves to be on top of the screen because he juz so awesome... JUST SO PHENOMENON... LOVE you MIKE... N LINKIN PARK!
He's quite underrated because of stunning vocals of chester, great sounds produced by the band...
Love Mike! Linkin Park is one of the few bands that keep rock alive nowdays!
He just made the Bands songs sound even better. He was great and an integral part of their overall sound.
Glad to see someone else appreciates one of the best, classiest, multi-talented musicians since the dawn of rock 'n' roll.
This guy is a genius, he should have way more votes.
Garth was hands down the best.
Most underrated bass players in the world. Sure Jimmy and Robert get the glory, but John P & John B were the guys behind the scenes, John B obviously top 3 of all time drummers but no one gives credit to John P J like he deserves, bass or piano! Thank you John Paul Jones!
Trampled Underfoot! Kashmir! Rock and Roll! come on people led zeppelin
Misty mountain hop!
"All of my love "
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
Some rock pianists bang out notes and play simple chords, Richard was classically trained and brings the whole package. His melodies and chords are wonderful. He needs to be in the top ten.
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.
Sad to see him behind the Yoshiki guy and Freddie Mercury (geat songwriter and singer but ordinary pianist). Such an original and innovating player who was taken from us way too soon.