Top 10 Best Rock n Roll Pianists

The Top Ten
1 Elton John Sir Elton Hercules John (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight; 25 March 1947) is an English singer, pianist and composer. Collaborating with lyricist Bernie Taupin since 1967 on more than 30 albums, John has sold over 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has... read more

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.

2 Billy Joel William Martin Joel is an American singer-songwriter, composer and pianist. Commonly nicknamed the "Piano Man", he has been making music since the 1960s, releasing popular albums throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s.

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."

3 Jerry Lee Lewis Jerry Lee Lewis (1935 - 2022) was an American singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist, often known by his nickname, The Killer. He has been described as "rock and roll's first great wild man." A pioneer of rock and roll and rockabilly music, Lewis made his first recordings in 1956 at Sun Records in... read more

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.

4 Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Zanzibari-born British singer of Indian descent, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the British rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave... read more

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.

5 Ray Charles Ray Charles Robinson, professionally known as Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer.

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 surpasses 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.

6 Leon Russell

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?

7 Billy Preston William Everett Preston was an American musician whose work included R&B, rock, soul, funk, and gospel.

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).

8 Fats Domino Antoine "Fats" Domino, Jr. was a French Creole pianist and singer-songwriter. He released five gold records before 1955 and had 35 hit records in the U.S. Top 40. He died on October 25, 2017.

Much higher on my list. Top 20, in my opinion.

9 David Bryan 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.

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.

10 Stevie Wonder Stevland Hardaway Morris, known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist.

One of the best pianists. He made his instrument sing!

Songs in the Key of Life. Enough said.

The Contenders
11 Rick Wakeman Richard Christopher "Rick" Wakeman is an English keyboardist, songwriter, television and radio presenter, and author.

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.

12 Ray Manzarek Raymond Daniel Manczarek, Jr., better known as Ray Manzarek, was an American musician, singer, producer, film director, and author.

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.

13 Ben Folds

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.

14 Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop and rock... read more

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 is a great musician, but his piano playing is average at best.

I didn't really appreciate his piano playing until later in life. Stellar, spirited player.

15 Yoshiki Hayashi Yoshiki Hayashi is a Japanese musician, songwriter, composer and record producer. Better known by his stage name Yoshiki, he is best known as the leader and a co-founder of the heavy metal band X Japan, for which he is the drummer, pianist and main songwriter. The band achieved breakthrough success... read more

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.

16 Matt Bellamy Matthew James "Matt" Bellamy is an English musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He is most famous for being the main vocalist in alternative rock band "Muse".

United States of Eurasia, Apocalypse Please, and Starlight. Mega-intelligent pianist. 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!

17 Little Richard Richard Wayne Penniman, known by his stage name, Little Richard, was an American musician, singer and songwriter. He is widely regarded to be one of the most influential rock musicians of all time.

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.

18 Bob Seger Robert Clark "Bob" Seger is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist. As a locally successful Detroit-area artist, he performed and recorded as Bob Seger and the Last Heard and Bob Seger System throughout the 1960s.
19 Jon Lord Jonathan 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.

Jon Lord rocked the organ on Highway Star. Awesome keyboard dude.

20 Keith Emerson 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.

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.

21 Trent Reznor Michael Trent Reznor, known professionally as Trent Reznor, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and film score composer. He is known for his intense music videos.
22 John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980) was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age... read more

I agree, John had more of an outrageous personality that folks 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.

23 Mike Shinoda Michael Kenji "Mike" Shinoda (born 11 February 1977) is an American musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, graphic designer, manager and film composer. He co-founded Linkin Park in 1996 and is the band's rhythm guitarist, primary songwriter, keyboardist, producer, and co-lead vocalist... read more

He's quite underrated because of the stunning vocals of Chester and the great sounds produced by the band.

Love Mike! Linkin Park is one of the few bands that keep rock alive nowadays!

24 John Paul Jones John Baldwin, better known by his stage name John Paul Jones, is an English multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, arranger and record producer. He is best known as the bassist for the English rock band Led Zeppelin... read more

Trampled Underfoot! Kashmir! Rock and Roll! Come on, people, Led Zeppelin.

Most underrated bass player in the world. Sure, Jimmy and Robert get the glory, but John P and John B were the guys behind the scenes. John B is obviously one of the top 3 of all-time drummers, but no one gives credit to John P J like he deserves, whether he's playing bass or piano!

Thank you, John Paul Jones!

25 Garth Hudson 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.

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.

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