Top Keyboard Players

This list represents our list of top keyboard payers (from all categories of music) in soecifi order. Whats the criteria for being the best or being in the top list?…. ‘Unknown’ is the answer.

A best guess is that either the composition, playing, style technique, arranging skill, musicality, dexterity, passion, innovation, attitude and possibly others too. Whatever the definition this list is merely our list and includes the keyboard players who have influenced us.

Keith Emerson

The undisputed heavyweight overlord of rock keyboards. Almost single handedly responsible for getting street cred for rock keyboard players and showing that they can rock with the best and don’t always sit politely behind polished furniture one on a stage. Tragically take from the world in March 2016 the world of prog,  music and rock keyboards has a gaping hole in it but the effect that Emerson had on the world is unquestionable. Every single musician who has played a synth owes a debt to Keith Emerson – the man who paved the way and made it all possible to play keyboards and ‘rock’ as well as any guitarist. Gone but NEVER forgotten.

Tony Banks

The apparent quiet guy in Genesis but who was the main songwriting force right through Genesis’ history. No flash, no big histrionics: he simply let his composition and playing speak for for him. His songwriting was a fundamental building block of the classic Genesis sound right throughout their career. Like Kieth Emerson he wanted respect as a ‘composer’ but the classical world still (unbelievably) does not take rock musicians seriously but the title ‘composer’ is reserved for the special few it seems.

Guy Babylon

Unsung hero who sadly died before his time. Although being famous for being Elton Johns backing band and winning Keyboard Magazine writing competition in the late 80’s Guy Babylon was  huge talent and an incredibly gifted keyboard player. His first solo album was released after his death but displays what a wide range of influences, talent and styles he had mastered. A great example to all modern rock players taken from us way too early.

John Beck

One of the few keyboard heroes from the 80’s (and still productive). A very accomplished player, writer and performer who brought respectability to 80’s keyboard players (when it was ‘hip’ to play with one finger – go figure?) and could rock like few others could or can….. and even wear make up on stage with a top hat and a rose in his mouth.

Ronnie Brown (Pallas)

Pallas were  Scotland’s best ever band (in any category of music) and Ronnie Brown was at the keys providing great melodic parts and colourful textures in the band. Pallas had a fairly input from guitar influence and bass guitar courtesy of Nialll Mathewson and Graeme Murray respectively so Ronnie Brown did a great job orchestrating parts and playing to fit in with the Pallas wall of sound: an archetypal example of how to play/place keyboards in a prog band which features a lot of guitar!

Neil Mathewson also a superlative guitarist and who knew when to leave space for keyboards – so arguably the kudos goes to all both Ronnie and Niall Mathewson.

Brian Johnstone

Whilst remaining relatively unknown Brian Johnstone shows a refreshing approach to keyboards in modern prog rock. Featuring a lot of keyboard based composition he manages to combine a range of styles in his music composition and playing.

His writing incorporates ranges from heavy keyboard textures, melodic solos to ‘virtual instrument’ guitar shredding all with melodic very ‘singable’ songs and unpredictable composition so it makes him hard to categorise stylistically. But unique and innovative for sure.


Other write-ups coming soon

  • Tom Coster
  • David Benoit
  • Don Grusin
  • Bob James
  • Joe Sample
  • Daid Arkenstone
  • Andy Pickford
  • Bill Sharpe
  • Bill Joel
  • David Sancious
  • Bruce Hornsby
  • Rick Wakeman
  • Geoff Downes
  • John Lord
  • Chick Corea
  • Tom Brislin
  • Don Airey
  • Peter Vetesse
  • Kitaro
  • Vangelis
  • Yanni
  • David Foster
  • Donald Fagen
  • Nick Rhodes
  • Larry Fast (Synergy, Peter Gabriel)
  • Larry Dunn (Earth, Wind & Fire)
  • Patrick Moraz
  • Rod Argent
  • T Lavitz
  • Steve Winwood
  • John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
  • Tom Schumann (Spyro Gyra)
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