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 Ten

1 Dave 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.

I have watched this man perform for forty Years and it has been a total pleasure the whole way. Without a doubt the only keyboard player to come out of the Punk movement with serious credentials and his talent and ability is second to none.

One of the most understated keyboard players of our generation. He is The Stranglers and without his genius they would not have endured the 40 plus years of some of the most iconic sounds that he has delivered from those keyboards. A truly humble gentleman. That' is our Dave Greenfield. Legend!

Without doubt the most iconic keyboard player in modern music. Created a genre and so underrated. If you don’t know him listen to Sewer, Walk on By and The Raven. Truly inventive genius and a proper gentleman to boot.

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2 Keith Emerson (ELP) Keith Emerson (ELP) Keith Noel Emerson was an English keyboardist and composer. Emerson played in a number of bands before he found his first commercial success with the Nice.

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.

Of course, there can be no contest here, although I rate Rick (Wakeman) highly. As far as piano goes, you must watch Keith playing 'Piano Improvisations' live! Of course, Tarkus/Aquatarkus on organ are great, but obviously a totally different keyboard technique. How sad this guy died the way he did, but I guess his music and playing was so important to him that when he could no longer physically continue, the way he wanted to. HE chose the only way (for him) out. I have lost probably the greatest inspiration in my life, musically. RIP Keith Emerson.

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.

God

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3 Jon Lord (Deep Purple) Jon Lord (Deep Purple) John Douglas "Jon" Lord was an English composer, pianist, and Hammond organ player known for his pioneering work in fusing rock with classical or baroque forms, especially with Deep Purple, as well as Whitesnake, Paice Ashton Lord, The Artwoods, and The Flower Pot Men.

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...

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

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

Lazy!

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4 Richard Wright (Pink Floyd) Richard Wright (Pink Floyd) Richard William "Rick" Wright was an English musician, composer, singer and songwriter. He was the main keyboardist and a backup vocalist for the psychedelic and progressive English rock band, 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.

RIP Rick Wright

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5 Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) Jordan Rudess is an American keyboardist and composer best known as a member of the progressive metal/rock band Dream Theater and the progressive rock supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment.

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!

Wow

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6 Rick Wakeman (Yes) Rick Wakeman (Yes) Richard Christopher "Rick" Wakeman is an English keyboardist, songwriter, television and radio presenter, and author.

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

In my opinion, Yes is underrated Progressive Rock Band, and while I think Keith Emerson is the all time greatest keyboard player ever, I need to show the keyboard player from my 5th favorite band ever some love. I mean have you heard the keyboard from the song Roundabout!

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.

There is no competition! Wakeman's range of classical, jazz and rock influences makes him the best all time rock keyboardist.
He is also the most colourful of characters!

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7 Tony 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.

Like Manzarek, Banks was the heartbeat of the band and most of their tunes revolved around his 'odd bits and ends' that he brought to the band when they jammed, creating music. Like Emerson and Wakeman he was a composer, incredibly talented at an early age with classical training and an uncanny ear. Gabriel had a masterpiece of lyrics in the Lamb but Banks wrote most of the music with Rutherford and shone most brightly on 'The Wind and the Wuthering'...give it a listen and know his true brilliance...

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.

This guy should be right there with emerson. Those 2 guys both could compose classical music and make progressive music the same way and make it sound awesome.

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8 Ray Manzarek (The Doors) Ray Manzarek (The Doors) Raymond Daniel Manczarek, Jr., better known as Ray Manzarek, was an American musician, singer, producer, film director, and author.

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 should be at the top. Most notable Rock Keyboardist. He was incredibly versatile, serving as Bassist simultaneously with the Fender Rhodes Piano Bass paired with the iconic Vox Continental.

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9 John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) John Baldwin, better known by his stage name John Paul Jones, is an English multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, arranger and record producer.

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)

Just listen to no quarter once and you know he's the best, if I didn't know better I'd say he's better on the keyboard than the bass, he's incredible

The only guy in the top 10 list for bassists and keyboardists...The silent monster

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10 Elton John Elton 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. !

Terrible and delusional list by an obviously unqualified group of fans--not musicians or those with any musical knowledge! Elton is the greatest rock pianist and according to van cliburn( you know,the greatest classical pianist of all time --he won the prestigious Tchaikovsky piano tourney in Moscow in 1957 before an all soviet judging panel) who stated and I quote " that elton john fellow is the finest improvisational player I've ever heard! His mastery of irregular and difficult chords and his alacrity of playing these sets while singing is nothing short of incredible! enough said!

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.

The best piano player

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The Contenders

11 Patrick Moraz (Refugee, Yes)

A unique style, completely different from Wakeman's, a cleaner player on another note. I love Rick but guys like Moraz or Emerson are much technically profficient. Rick will always throw in a bad note during his keyboard licks. Emerson is near perfection. Same for Moraz. But my truest idol is Tony Banks.

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

On Relayer he plays phantastic.

12 David Bryan (Bon Jovi) David Bryan (Bon Jovi) David Bryan Rashbaum, best known as just David Bryan, is the keyboard player of the popular American Rock band Bon Jovi, with which he has also co-written songs and performed backing vocals.

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!

Yep I am big bon jovi fan and David has skills you would never believe he is truly amazing.

What an amazing man. So talented. There really is no competition. Hand him the prize now.

Everyone in Bon Jovi is talented so is this guy.David is the best,I don't care about others words but he is talented.Listen to his pieces in songs like Dry County and Let it Rock then you will become a fan too.Have a nice day 🙂

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13 Eddie Jobson (UK)

He was an artistic genius with his band Zinc and The Green Album, but he earned his spurs playing for frank Zappa

14 Leon Russell

Very disappointed. There will never be another Leon.

Should be #1. No question at all.

You can't be serious!

15 Freddie Mercury (Queen) Freddie Mercury (Queen) Freddie Mercury (5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Tanzanian-born British singer, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. Before he became a singer ...read more.

The piano on "Don't stop me now" bohemian rhapsody and somebody to love, you're sleep he's number one in vocals and top with elton john for piano skill

Underrated pianist. He played by his own rules. - FredRogBriJoQueen

Very creative player!

Deft touch and killer riffage

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16 Garth Hudson (the Band) Garth Hudson (the Band) Eric Garth Hudson is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist. As the organist, keyboardist and saxophonist for Canadian-American rock group the Band, he was a principal architect of the group's unique sound.

Unrivalled for range of styles, check out "Webster Hall," "Chest Fever" (Big Pink, Genetic Method (Rock of Ages), Moon Struck One, The Weight with the Staples, The Shape I'm In (Stagefright), Atlantic City, Free Your Mind, Move to Japan (with the Trews), Like a Rolling Stone (live with Dylan in 1965), Ballad of a Thin Man (from Before the Flood), too many tracks with him accompanying brilliant singers of all kinds to count, orchestration, solo, inventiveness, understatement, beauty and idiosyncracy

Just listen to chest fever. A more epic organ solo has not been done!

17 Jens Johansson (Yngwie, Stratovarius, Dio)

This guy is a master and very fast. - Metal_Treasure

18 Steve Winwood (Traffic) Steve Winwood (Traffic) Stephen Lawrence "Steve" Winwood is an English musician whose genres include rock, blue-eyed soul, rhythm and blues, blues rock, pop rock, and jazz.

Steve Winwood owns the Hammond Organ and the piano, you will have a hard time finding someone greater with those instruments. Furthermore, his composition skills are amazing. He has never written a bad melody. He is number one in my book, though Keith Emerson has to be up there as well. Winwood is Top Three minimum.

Should have been rated much higher one of the most talented musician ever Traffic one of the best bands as well as Blind Faith, Spencer Davis...

Damn right he should be in the top three. Winwood may well be the most gifted overall musician on the planet.

Still making albums

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19 Thijs Van Leer (Focus)

Mad eccentric genius.

20 Dr. John
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List Stats

3,000 votes
85 listings
6 years, 143 days old

Top Remixes (9)

1. Keith Emerson (ELP)
2. Rick Wakeman (Yes)
3. Tony Banks (Genesis)
williammorrison123
1. Keith Emerson (ELP)
2. Rick Wakeman (Yes)
3. Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)
Hypernova007
1. Jon Lord (Deep Purple)
2. Richard Wright (Pink Floyd)
3. Dizzy Reed
zxm

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