As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the topics of discussion in our car ride to and from Holiday World yesterday was great rock musicians. Those in the car with me were at best vaguely familiar with some of the keyboardists that immediately came to my mind, in some cases in spite of being aware of the bands they are associated with. And so this post is aimed at sharing some names that anyone should know, and sharing some concrete examples of their virtuosity.
The first name that ought to come to mind when someone says “greatest rock keyboard” is of course Keith Emerson. He is famous for doing things like this:
Emerson may well be able to keep his all-time #1 rock keyboardist status. But one should not have the impression that there are no other serious contenders for the spot, or that it is a “no contest” situation. Perhaps the strongest challenger would be Jordan Rudess, keyboardist with Dream Theater and the instrumental offshoot Liquid Tension Experiment:
Rudess is remarkable for his versatility (he will suddenly break into ragtime style, then be back in progressive metal mode making the keyboard sing the way we associate with electric guitar – an instrument which he can also play, I might add).
Rick Wakeman also absolutely has to be mentioned. This keyboard solo is phenomenal, and illustrates a similar playfulness to Rudess at the end:
There are also some “keyboard battle” videos on YouTube. This one is simply for amusement…
…but this one is serious, and the result may surprise you!
Clearly Mike Lindup (the keyboardist from Level 42) is a name that should be better known than it is (it seems not have been known even by the Japanese game show hosts in that clip)!
I have saved for last one of my favorites, not because he is necessarily faster in a contest than anyone else (although he might well be!) but because I enjoy his solos, and they were what inspired me to learn to play the keyboard myself. And so, without further ado, here is Tony Banks of Genesis:
It perhaps also bears mentioning that the skills developed playing classical music is evident in the case of all the contenders in this category.
Who would you have chosen as the best rock performers on keyboard or any other instrument of your choice, and why? Any particularly amazing solos you’d mention in the discussion?