Top 10 Best Rock n Roll Pianists
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 (classical) and Oscar Peterson (jazz) were also examples that music doesn't necessarily come from this world. But Elton combines it all. In other words, just reduce Elton to his playing, and you wouldn't 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 their favorite, and they are grateful to have even been mentioned in the Top Ten with Elton.
Billy Joel is the best. Listen to his songs "Nocturne", "Root Beer Rag", "Prelude", "Vienna", "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", "New York State of Mind", "Leningrad", "Everybody Loves You Now", "Miami 2017", and I could go on and on. He writes all his lyrics. Every song is awesome, his singing is awesome, and his piano playing is awesome. His songs that include the synthesizer are also great, like "Pressure", for example. Every one of his albums is great. 'The Stranger' is personally my favorite, but all the others I've listened to fully are also very good.
His songs without much piano are even good, like "We Didn't Start the Fire", "Uptown Girl (you all know that one)", "The Longest Time", "Shameless", and many more. I'm not much of an Elton fan (though I do like "Philadelphia Freedom"), he's alright, but Billy Joel is hands down the best of the best. Piano, vocals. He even plays guitar! Watch the video for "A Matter of Trust".
Billy Joel is the greatest keyboard player in rock and roll. Period.
One only needs to listen to "Prelude to an Angry Young Man" to be completely wowed by his talent. 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. In my humble opinion, he's the best, hands down.
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, songwriting 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
Songwriting: 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 bye here.
In my humble opinion overall, he tops everyone in the top 5.
There is a reason the album "Jerry Lee Lewis Live at the Star Club" is universally recognized as the greatest rock 'n' roll album ever produced. He's just that good.
Elton John and Billy Joel can't compare when it comes to The Killer's attitude, speed, innovation, and showmanship.
Undoubtedly the best vocalist of all time and probably one of the greatest pianists 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 of this world and are incomplete without the unparalleled piano played by Freddie on the keys. He is one of the greatest musicians of all time, if not the greatest ever!
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.
Yeah, he won. He won our hearts and our souls. With love. He writes piano riffs that alone make you shocked at 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.
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.
Even blind, he beats many good pianists. Ray and Rick are the best real rock 'n' roll pianists forever.
Ray is in an elite class of pianists. In my top 5 of all time.
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 inducted Leon into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Another easy way to see where he stands and his legacy is to look at how many major artists' records he performed on. Hundreds! He was the pianist in greatest demand for many years. Rock on, Leon. You are number 1!
Leon Russell and Jerry Lee Lewis are the only rock and roll pianists as far as I'm concerned. I love Elton, but he's a songwriter who uses the piano, and he opened for Leon on his first two tours. And I forgot about Ray, so okay, keep him at number 3 for me. But seriously, I'd go 1. Jerry, 2. Leon, 3. Ray, end of list. Now back to editing my Leon documentary for my YouTube channel, The Dark Side Boomer Mellissa. I didn't come here with that in mind, but this man needs more understanding. What's wrong with people?
You guys are getting Billy Preston confused with Billy Powell. Billy Powell is the pianist in Lynyrd Skynyrd, known for his excellent piano solos in songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Tuesday's Gone," among others. I'm sure Billy Preston is a good pianist too, but I don't know him that well. 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's recordings: Single: Get Back (The Beatles with Billy Preston).
Best southern rock pianist. Also responsible for the intro to "Freebird" and the stunning solo in the band's version of "Call Me The Breeze." RIP Billy.
Much higher on my list. Top 20, in my opinion.
How is he not higher?!
Should be number 1.
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.
One of the best pianists. He made his instrument sing!
Songs on the Key of Life. Enough said.
Why isn't he higher?
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's (almost 30 albums). It's only because Yes got little radio play and RW got no radio play that they are where they are. It's unfortunate that America isn't as intellectual as we came to be. Elton John and Billy Joel are 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 totally commercial and lost half his fan base but picked up the bubble gum rockers from Def Leppard.)
Playing both keyboard and bass at the same time, Ray Manzarek gave The Doors their iconic sound, unmistakable for any other artist in the world. From Light My Fire to Riders on the Storm, Ray was not a classical pianist by any means, but he formed his own style which massively influenced The Doors' sound.
Together with Robby's guitar playing, inspired by flamenco, John's drum playing, inspired by African folk music, and Morrison's electric and versatile voice, ranging from pure rock to a Frank Sinatra kind of voice, the band created some timeless hits like Light My Fire, Break on Through, Riders on the Storm, Love Her Madly, Hello, I Love You, and Roadhouse Blues. The chemistry that The Doors had will never be repeated in the same way.
For these reasons, I think that Ray should be ranked much higher on the list, at least in the top 5, and well above Freddie Mercury. I don't mean to say that Freddie is a bad pianist, but at the same level as Ray? With Ray's versatile playing on both the bass and keyboard, I believe he deserves a much higher ranking, maybe even in the top 3.
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 have 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.
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.
Martha My Dear, You Never Give Me Your Money, Maybe I'm Amazed. Songs that show he is technically pretty good. But it's not all about technique. It is also about how you can effectively deploy and apply an instrument. And in that field, he is a master. For example: Let 'Em In.
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.
He puts his soul into every piece of his music. He doesn't just make music. He creates masterpieces of melodies and emotions.
Far beyond just being a composer or an artist, he can evoke a range of emotions. He can make you cry, scream, or even feel angry. He uses music as a form of therapy, to heal and create happiness, even when the music is sad. This is 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 number one 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 it's video!
United States of Eurasia, Apocalypse Please, and Starlight.
Very professional and precise. Matthew Bellamy, in the next few years, will be in the top ten list. He is such a talent, such a gift. Modern day, incomparable with anyone. His genius overrules almost anyone in the rock music industry.
Yes, listen to Isolated System and the Exogenesis Symphonies.
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!
Butterflies and Hurricanes. Piano Thing. Matt Bellamy is not only a spectacular pianist, but he's also a phenomenal classical composer. Absolutely brilliant.
He should definitely be around the first top 5. It's 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'd 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 top 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 ahead of his time. I think racial lines caused him to be blackballed, pushing him 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!
Worth a mention at least?
Jon lord rocked the than on highway star. Awesome keyboard dude.
He was the best!
One of the best
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
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).
I agree, John had more of an outrageous personality that folk listen for, bringing meaningful stories from an unbalanced mind.
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.
Not sure he was the best pianist, but he made up for it by coming up with incredible melodies, arrangements, and lyrics.
He's quite underrated because of the stunning vocals of Chester, great sounds produced by the band...
Love Mike! Linkin Park is one of the few bands that keep rock alive nowadays!
Trampled Underfoot! Kashmir! Rock and Roll! Come on, people, Led Zeppelin.
Misty Mountain Hop!
"All of My Love."
Glad to see someone else appreciates one of the best, classiest, multi-talented musicians since the dawn of rock 'n' roll.
He just made the Band's songs sound even better. He was great and an integral part of their overall sound.
This guy is a genius. He should have way more votes.