14 Best Rock Pianists You’ll Fall in Love With

Discover the Best Rock Pianists!

Rock and Roll music isn’t just about electric guitars and drum sets—it’s also about the amazing piano instrument.  So today, we’re going to explore to best rock pianists that not only made an impact in various genres of rock music (from classic rock to indie rock), but paved the way for a new generation of musicians, as well.

The Best Rock Pianists (TLDR)

The top rock pianists of all time are the following:

14. Ben Folds
13. Mike Shinoda 
12. Richard Wright
11. Chris Martin
10. Christine McVie
9. Kevin Moore
8. Bruce Hornsby
7. Paul McCarthy 
6. Ray Charles
5. Billy Joel
4. Freddie Mercury 
3. Jerry Lee Lewis
2. Stevie Wonder
1. Elton John

When it comes to the top rock pianists, the top artists listed above are the best of the best. Ben Folds, with his versatility skills, has a significant impact on the piano through his ability to be witty yet technical on the piano.

Then there’s someone like Bruce Hornsby, whose technical approach on the piano has helped put rock into rock ’n roll.

Ray Charles was so immensely diverse as a piano player, you could argue that he was just as good in country and rock and roll as he was in R&B and soul music.

And the best of all time is, without a doubt, Elton John, whose vibrant and passionate performances have solidified his status as the greatest rock pianist of all time. 

14. Ben Folds

Folds’ piano skills are a significant factor in his success as a musician. His playing is incredibly versatile, ranging from delicate and melancholic to energetic and bombastic. His virtuosic piano solos are always a highlight of his live performances.

But the most impressive thing about Ben Folds’ piano playing is his ability to use it as a tool for storytelling. His songs are often character-driven, and his piano playing helps to bring those characters to life. 

Whether he’s telling the story of a jaded musician on “Brick” or exploring the complex emotions of a broken relationship on “The Luckiest,” Folds’ piano playing is always an integral part of the narrative. His skill, creativity, and musicality have made him a beloved figure in the world of music, and his legacy will undoubtedly endure for many years to come. Whether you’re a fan of rock music or appreciate excellent piano playing, Ben Folds is someone you should check out.

Favorite song: “Brick” by Ben Folds is a song I hold very close to my heart. There’s something about the raw emotion and vulnerability of the lyrics that speaks to me. The song tells a story of a couple going through a difficult time, ultimately leading to the decision to have an abortion. 

It’s a heavy subject matter, but Ben Folds handles it gracefully and sensitively.The piano melody is hauntingly beautiful and perfectly captures the somber mood of the lyrics. Ben Folds’ voice is also incredibly emotive, adding more depth to the song. 

13. Mike Shinoda

Mike Shinoda is a talented musician who is constantly making new music. While he is best known for his work as a rapper, producer, and songwriter with the legendary rock band Linkin Park, his skills as a pianist are just as impressive. Many fans and critics agree that Shinoda’s piano playing is a key element that sets Linkin Park’s music apart from other bands in the genre.

His ability to blend different styles and techniques seamlessly sets Shinoda apart as a pianist. He is equally comfortable playing intricate classical pieces, soulful jazz improvisations, and hard-hitting rock riffs. This versatility is evident in many of Linkin Park’s most famous songs, such as “Numb,” “Crawling,” and “Breaking the Habit,” where Shinoda’s piano work adds depth and emotional resonance to the powerful vocals and guitar riffs.

Shinoda’s skill on the piano is also evident in his solo work. His 2018 album “Post Traumatic” features several tracks where the piano takes center stage, showcasing his ability to craft beautiful, haunting melodies that stick with the listener long after the song has ended. In tracks like “Over Again” and “Place to Start,” Shinoda’s piano work starkly contrasts the lyrics’ raw emotions, creating a powerful and unforgettable listening experience.

Favorite song:  When it comes to piano songs, “One More Light” by Linkin Park is a particularly poignant and beautiful track, and it’s no surprise that it’s my favorite. The piano melody is hauntingly beautiful and emotive.

It’s a perfect match for the deeply personal and moving lyrics, which deal with themes of loss, grief, and the fragility of life. The powerful and moving piano notes in this song capture the essence of human emotion in a way few other tracks can. 

12. Richard Wright

One of the reasons why Richard Wright is such a great pianist is his ability to create beautiful melodies that are both catchy and memorable. He has a way of blending different musical genres to create unique and exciting compositions that delight his fans. Another reason why he is such a great musician is his technical proficiency on the piano. 

His intricate and complex playing style is a testament to his years of dedication and practice. He can effortlessly blend different rhythms and styles, creating a seamless sound that is truly breathtaking. He deeply loves his craft, which shines through in everything he does. His music is more than just a way to make a living – it is a way of life for him, and this passion is evident in every note he plays.

Favorite song: “The Thin Ice” by Pink Floyd, is undoubtedly one of Richard Wright’s best piano works. The piano work in “The Thin Ice” is a masterclass in restraint and nuance, with Wright’s playing perfectly capturing the song’s mournful tone.

The delicate and haunting melody of the song is perfectly complemented by the subtle yet powerful piano accompaniment that Wright provides. Overall, “The Thin Ice” is a shining example of Richard Wright’s incredible talent as a pianist.

11. Chris Martin

Chris Martin is undoubtedly one of the most talented rock pianists out there.

 He has an uncanny ability to connect with his audience, drawing them in with his emotive playing and powerful performances. When performing, he’s entirely in the moment, putting his heart and soul into every note.

Martin’s piano playing is also incredibly versatile. He knows exactly how to use his piano to enhance the emotion of each song, creating a truly unforgettable experience for his fans.

His ability to craft both catchy and meaningful songs on the piano is truly impressive, and it’s what has made him one of the most popular rock musicians of our time.

Favorite song: “The Scientist” by Coldplay, is a song that has captured my heart since the very first time I heard it. There is something so raw and emotional about the lyrics and Chris Martin’s delivery that speaks to me on an intense level. The piano melody draws you in and holds you captive, making you feel every emotion that Chris Martin conveys. 

10. Christine McVie

From her early work with Fleetwood Mac to her later solo efforts, McVie has consistently demonstrated a knack for creating catchy, memorable piano parts that stick in listeners’ heads long after the music has ended.

One of the things that makes McVie’s piano playing so compelling is her sense of restraint. Unlike some pianists who try to fill every available space with notes, McVie understands the importance of leaving room for other instruments to shine. Her parts are often sparse and understated but no less impactful for it. 

Whether providing a simple, repetitive riff to anchor a song or adding subtle flourishes to a vocal melody, McVie always finds a way to make her playing count. It’s worth noting that McVie is an accomplished songwriter in her own right. She wrote her best-known piano parts, and her ability to craft memorable melodies extends beyond just her playing. Her songwriting is often praised for its emotions.

Favorite song: “Songbird” by Christine McVie has always been my favorite song for her piano skills. The way she plays the instrument is simply mesmerizing. Her piano skills are exceptional, from the gentle and soothing opening notes to the uplifting and inspiring melody.

I love how her playing adds depth and emotion to the lyrics, making the song even more powerful. Her talent on the piano is undeniable, and it’s no wonder that “Songbird” has become a timeless song.

9. Kevin Moore

Kevin Moore is undoubtedly one of the most talented rock pianists ever. With a career of over three decades, Moore has consistently impressed audiences with his incredible skills and unique approach to playing the piano. From classical to jazz, Moore deeply understands various musical traditions and incorporates them into his playing in a way that is both innovative and accessible.

His playing is always precise yet emotive, and he has an uncanny ability to connect with his audience on a deep, emotional level. Whether performing live or recording in the studio, Moore always brings his A-game and delivers nothing short of breathtaking performances.

Favorite song: I love the song “Bigger Wave” by OSI! It’s one of my all-time favorites, and a big part is thanks to Kevin Moore’s incredible piano skills. Something about how he plays speaks to me and always gives me chills. The song itself is just fantastic too. It has this powerful, driving energy to it that’s just impossible to resist. 

8. Bruce Hornsby

Bruce Hornsby is undoubtedly one of the greatest rock pianists of all time. His unique piano playing has won him countless fans worldwide, and his influence can be felt in the music of many other great artists.

One of the main reasons why Bruce Hornsby is such a great rock pianist is his incredible ability to improvise. He has a natural talent for creating beautiful melodies on the spot, and his improvisations are always full of energy and passion.

Another reason why Bruce Hornsby is so highly regarded is his incredible technical proficiency. He can play complex rhythms and intricate chord progressions easily and constantly pushes the boundaries of what is possible on the piano.

Favorite song: “The Way It Is” melody is catchy, and the lyrics are thought-provoking, touching on social injustice and inequality themes. You’ll appreciate how Hornsby weaves his musical and lyrical talents to create a truly memorable listening experience. 

7. Paul McCarthy 

Paul McCarthy is so loved and respected that even legendary artists like The Rolling Stone want to feature McCarthy on their album. Paul McCarthy’s phenomenal rock piano skills led to mesmerizing performances that have earned him a reputation as one of the best in the business. 

His excellent technical skills when it comes to the piano in the area of rock are genuinely remarkable. McCarthy can execute complex songs while making them catchy! He has a natural talent for playing the piano that is truly inspiring.

Favorite song: “Hey Jude” is one of the most iconic songs from The Beatles, and there are many reasons why it’s my favorite. But one of the main reasons is undoubtedly Paul McCartney’s incredible piano skills. The piano is integral to the song, and McCartney’s playing is masterful. His playing is both delightful and intriguing, and his sense of timing and rhythm is always spot-on.

6. Ray Charles

This soulful crooner may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of rock pianists, but trust me; he’s a legend in his own right. First of all, let’s talk about those fingers.

Ray could make those keys sing like nobody’s business. He had a way of injecting pure emotion into every note he played, from the softest ballads to the most upbeat rockers. But what sets Ray apart from other rock pianists is his versatility. He wasn’t afraid to experiment with different genres, and his ability to blend different types of music made him truly unique.

Favorite song: “Hit The Road Jack” by Ray Charles is a song that makes me want to get up and dance every time I hear it. Ray Charles was truly one of the greatest rock pianists of all time. He knew how to create music that was both uplifting and soulful. “Hit The Road Jack” is just one example of his incredible talent and is my favorite song.

5. Billy Joel

Billy Joel is undoubtedly one of the best in the business regarding rock pianists. With his unique blend of classical training and rock and roll sensibility, Joel has created a timeless and unmistakable sound. His fingers fly across the keys precisely and quickly, creating a powerful and intricate sound.

Another reason why Joel is considered one of the top rock pianists is his ability to collaborate with other musicians. Throughout his long and storied career, Joel has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen. His ability to adapt his playing style to fit in with different artists and genres is incredible. 

Favorite song: “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel, is my favorite song not only because of its historical narrative that highlights important events but also for Billy Joel’s piano abilities in this song. His piano playing is exceptional in this song. It helps emphasize the catchy elements in this song.

4. Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury was an iconic figure in rock music, known for his powerful vocals, flamboyant stage presence, and incredible showmanship. However, many people don’t realize that Mercury was also an incredibly talented pianist, and his keyboard was a key element of his music.

Mercury’s piano playing was also characterized by how he created complex musical textures that added depth and complexity to Queen’s music, and his piano solos were always a highlight of their live shows.

Another key element of Mercury’s piano playing was his improvisational skills. He was known for his ability to spontaneously create new melodies and riffs on the spot, adding a sense of spontaneity and excitement to the band’s performances.

Favorite song: “Somebody To Love” by Queen, and one of the reasons why it’s my favorite song is because of Freddie Mercury’s incredible piano skills. The song is a masterpiece from start to finish, with every element coming together to create something extraordinary.

But it’s Freddie’s piano playing that sets it apart. The piano intro sets the song’s tone with its powerful melody. Freddie’s piano playing throughout the song perfectly complements the lyrics and vocals. The song is about the search for love and connection, and Freddie’s piano perfectly captures that journey’s ups and downs. 

3. Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis is undoubtedly one of the most iconic rock pianists ever. His electrifying performances and raw energy have captivated audiences for over six decades, earning him a well-deserved place in rock and roll history.

What sets Jerry Lee Lewis apart as a rock pianist is his unique style, which blends elements of country, blues, and gospel music. He can infuse his music with passion and emotion, whether belting out a soulful ballad or tearing through a fast-paced rock and roll number.

Favorite song: “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis is undoubtedly one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time. The song’s high energy and catchy melody, combined with Jerry Lee Lewis’s incredible piano skills, make it an unforgettable musical experience.

He was a virtuoso pianist who could make the piano sing like no one else could. His skill and technique in this song were one of a kind. When you listen to “Great Balls of Fire,” you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer energy and intensity that Jerry Lee Lewis brings to the piano. The way he pounds the keys with such passion. This song is truly captivating to the ears!

2. Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder’s contributions to rock music are immeasurable, and his influence on the genre is undeniable. His piano skills expand on various types of rock, which has helped enable the genre to evolve. Wonder’s mastery of the piano is evident in his innate sense of groove.

Whether playing a slow ballad or a fast-paced rock song, Wonder always finds the perfect rhythm to keep the music moving. His piano skills are filled with rhythmic and harmonic elements, making his music infectious and danceable. From a technical perspective, Wonder showcases his deep understanding of music theory, which helps him create fantastic structures on the piano. 

Favorite song: “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder is my absolute favorite song because I can’t help but feel uplifted every time I hear it. The melody is so catchy, and the lyrics are so relatable. But what sets this song apart for me is Stevie Wonder’s incredible piano skills.

The way he effortlessly glides over the keys is truly mesmerizing. I love how the piano takes center stage in this song. It’s not just there in the background; it’s a big part of the song. Stevie Wonder’s piano playing adds a layer of depth and emotion to the song that wouldn’t be there without it. It’s the perfect accompaniment to his soulful voice.

1. Elton John

Elton John’s impact on the music industry is extraordinary. He is the most respected rock pianist of all time. This is why many artists, including Dua Lipa, are happy to join him on stage. From his early hits like “Your Song” to his later classics like “Rocket Man,” Elton has consistently produced some of the most memorable and influential music of the last century.

Elton, such a remarkable pianist, is his ability to combine rock and roll energy with classical virtuosity. His playing is often frenetic and intense, but at the same time, it is always deeply musical and rooted in solid technique. He can switch effortlessly from thunderous chords to delicate arpeggios, always maintaining a sense of fluidity and coherence.

He also has a distinctive approach to melody and harmony that is instantly recognizable, and his flair for showmanship has made him a legendary performer. Whether playing in front of huge crowds or in more intimate settings, Elton always brings energy and excitement to his piano skills. This is why Elton John is number one on this list of the best rock pianists. 

Favorite song: “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John, and one of the main reasons for this is his incredible piano skills. The way he plays the piano in this song is mesmerizing, and it’s easy to get lost in the music and forget everything else—his ability to combine multiple styles and genres into his music.

“Bennie and the Jets” is a perfect example of this, as it features rock, pop, and even funk elements. The piano riffs throughout the song are incredibly influential, and it’s clear that Elton John is a true master of his craft.

This article was written by Amanda and edited by Michael.

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