10 Greatest Rock Keyboardists / PianistsKeyboardists were chosen for their skill, creativity, influence,
impact, musical depth & expression, and lasting popularity in 'Rock' music.
The Top Ten
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.V 217 Comments
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.
With all due respect, this list is a joke. For instance, Ray Manzarek. As much as I loved him, he was highly simplistic in his playing, and stuck there. He was innovative, and there would hardly be any Doors without him. But anyone with any real musical knowledge knows that Ray was no technician, or even a highly skilled player. Nor did he pretend to be.
Keith Emerson, on the other hand, blew them all away, and more. No one in Rock comes close. He's even turned some heads in the Jazz scene, which is saying a lot because Jazz musician too often carry airs of superiority and have little or no respect for Rock musicians. Keith was also the foremost composer and arranger in Classical-Rock. Even a #1 position for Keith, on lists such as this this, is an understatement.
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
Great keyboardist but in my opinion the songs rarely rose to the quality of the musicians, kind of like being a great actor in a mediocre movie.
To my mind the 3rd album came closest to showcasing the bands musical talents.
I find it the most consistent and musically satisfying of DP’s albums.
It’s the lp with the Hieronymous Bosch cover.
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.
I love him so much, I wish he never died!V 36 Comments
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!
Just listen to this guy.. how can he not be in the top 5?V 9 Comments
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.
Fantastic keys solos with yes, and he has fantastic synth tones for the early 70s. Listen to CTTE, the soundscapes he creates with his synths are incredibly moving especially on And You And I. Along with that he is also a great piano player, he is under credited with works such as Life on Mars? and Morning has Broken. I think what's most important though is his ability to create great melodies and his song arrangements.V 14 Comments
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.
Banks is the #1 keyboardist in the rock era. Wakeman and Emerson are more technically proficient, and achieved many highs but much of their work is too noodly or discordant in the mix. This results in tedious exercises or whacked-out space sounds. Banks (and Genesis) blend a lot better into an overall composition piece. Nothing from ELP or Yes can approximate the beauty and majesty of Cinema Show - when the song takes flight, Banks solo lifts you up to behold a chorus of angels. It gives me goose bumps every time after 40 years. With many more examples of these eargasms - he's the only keyboardist that reaches that emotional and spiritual peak usually reserved for Gospel or spiritual music. Simply listening to Genesis makes a listener more intelligent - for this reason Banks far surpasses the others.
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...
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.V 15 Comments
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.
Ray was absolutely the best! It always amazed me as how he could keep a bass beat with his left hand and go nuts on the organ solo on "Light my Fire" with his right hand. Fantastic!V 28 Comments
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)
John Paul Jones was really cool how he could preform so well, like in Misty Mountain Hop. His playing in that song really gave it something special.
The only guy in the top 10 list for bassists and keyboardists...The silent monsterV 4 Comments
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. !
Yep, Elton is STILL STANDING AFTER ALL THIS TIME... in fact it's 50 YEARS & MORE that Elton has been recording & performing! A musical genius!
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!
Greatest rock keyboardist/pianist EVER.V 4 Comments
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.
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 🙂V 7 Comments
He was an artistic genius with his band Zinc and The Green Album, but he earned his spurs playing for frank Zappa
Very disappointed. There will never be another Leon.
Should be #1. No question at all.
You can't be serious!
You and your wife, Tane were second to none in what you did. Yay, JC! His playing defined arena keyboard rock
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
Underrated as a pianist.
Deft touch and killer riffageV 4 Comments
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!
This guy is a master and very fast. - Metal_Treasure
Jump, I'll Wait, Dreams, Love Walks In, Why Can't This Be Love, When It's Love, and Right Now all speak for themselves
He makes great melodies on the keyboard and plays guitar too. One of the best, I think.
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 albumsV 2 Comments
Mad eccentric genius.
Geddy Lee is one of the most disciplined and hardworking rock and rollers of all times.
Should be top ten
Tom Sawyer. enough said.
HOW NOTV 1 Comment
RIP, Billy; you deserved to be a Fifth Beatle and I loved you 70s solo workV 1 Comment
Are you kidding me? Should be in top ten. Axl Rose is a better keyboardist than Billy Joel? Who made this list? Probably a bunch of stoner kids, who never touched an instrument.
I voted for Emerson, but it needs to be said that this guy is a monstrous keyboard. Everybody's aware of his stunning song writing talents, but one listen to his playing on songs like "Prelude/The Angry Young Man", "Root Beer Rag", "The Entertainer", "Travelin' Prayer", "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", "Stilleto", "Great Suburban Showdown", "Los Angelenos", "James", "New York State of Mind" and... man, the list is endless!
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!
There is no other like Him Dick was the, that's probably why Eric clapton choose Dick to play with Him for ten years!
Dick Sims was the best! Eric Clapton was lucky to have Dick as long as he did... RIP Dick, your well missed on this planet!
He was so good on those bass pedals too. as good as with his hands on keys and together he put it down in the pocket perfect DUDE!V 8 Comments
He played on more really great rocks songs than any other musician, keyboard or otherwise... The greatest keyboardist if just for symphony for the devil and Edward the mad shirt grinder. God bless. (Really...Keith Emerson...how pathetic).
Who else played with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Who? Also time in Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jerry Garcia Band - Jerry said Nicky was the keyboard player he ever played with.
Geez. He was amazing. He died too young, so I guess that's why more people don't appreciate him.
Nicky Hopkins didn't just play with The Rolling Stones, he played with The Kinks, The Beatles, Qucksilver Messenger Service, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, The Jerry Garcia Band and The Jeff Beck Group.
Hopkins doesn't get as much recognition because he wasn't really with one band but he was possibly arguably the greatest session keyboard player.
Benmont's musical genius is manifest in the countless tracks by what is for certain the most epic collection of musicians that should still be holding down 1-33 on the Billboard!
Sad that Benmont is underrated as The Heartbreakers key man. Heck, he played for Rufus Wainwright
He should be at least in the top twenty.
His better than Elton John and many others
Crazy-talented keyboardist for the Cars!
His mellotron work was ground breaking and set the prog rock benchmark for others to follow... subtle, ethereal textures...
Best. keyboardist. ever. Nights in White Satin would never have been a thing if it weren't for his mellotron.
Dizzy Reed from Guns n' Roses great keyboard player. November Rain, Estranged, Don't Cry, Knockin on Heavens Door...
Stupid show can an idiot put these piece of crap here near Emerson, lord etc absolutely imbecile kids voting here
Listen to November rain
Great composer! Technically not as good as Jordan Rudess, but his songwriting talent is huge! Listen to the Toto song "Jake To The Bone"... Good stuff!
Those keyboard solos in "Africa" and "Rosanna" never fail to make me smile! Beautifully Jazz inflected and melodic.
Toto hold the line
David Paich was a prolific session musician and he wrote and composed many great songs as a member of TOTO group and also for other artist like Boz Scaggs, Michael Jackson, Cher, Chicago etc... - zee_maV 2 Comments
So underrated. Prog rock keyboardists all the way. - RalphSaad
what - iyikuzen
Never saw anybody playing so cool but still letting so many emotions tae part.V 1 Comment
That man is a genius. let the breathtaking vocals, the songwriting skills etc aside. he is a true artist. he composes music and the piano is just extraordinary. the way he manages to combine the soft sound of the instrument with the unique and intense songs of the band is so brilliant. just listen to all his live performances (like sunburn live at glastonbury) or his symphonies (like exogenesis symphony) and you'll feel me!
Extraordinary pianist and it shows in many of their songs (if you don't know what I'm talking about listen to Piano thing or Butterflies and Hurricanes. ) He was also aiming to be a concert pianist before muse formed.
This man's fingers dance across the keys and produce magical sounds. Listen to Butterflies and Hurricanes to know what I'm talking about
Amazing pianist and guitarist. Nobody else has ever integrated classical piano with hard rock the way Matt has. He’s one of the most super talented musicians of our time and he gives me hope that truly great music is still alive and well in the 21st century.V 1 Comment
Truly one of the most underrated and overlooked keyboardists and singer/songwriters in rock music. Organ solo in "I'm OK", keyboard solo in "Angry Young Man", etc. His keyboard compositions helped define the sound of Styx.V 2 Comments
In the end, numb and what I've done are just a few examples of his prowess
Numb, In The End, My December, From The Inside, Iridescent...
Enough said =)
Best Pianist and Rapper.
Linkin Park Rocks!
Okay, my favorite is John Paul Jones, but Steve Walsh is horribly underrated for his work with kansas as a singer and keyboardist. He barely places top fifty here and I'm not sure he's even on the singers list, but he's incredible at both of those positions, he's amazing.
How the heck can Keith Godchaux not be in the top 10?
And how the hell is he lower than Brent Mydland? That's just criminal negligence there.
With the Small Faces, the Faces, the Rolling Stones, he was always great or super
Related ListsBest Progressive Rock Keyboardists Best Psychedelic Rock Keyboardists Best Rock n Roll Pianists Best Metal Keyboardists Best Pianists of All Time
6 years, 276 days old
Top Remixes (12)
2. Rick Wakeman (Yes)
3. Tony Banks (Genesis)
2. Rick Wakeman (Yes)
3. Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)
2. Richard Wright (Pink Floyd)
3. Dizzy Reed
View All 12