Keyboardists To Hear

Keyboardists You Must Hear

This is by no means a complete, definitive list. It is, however, a list of some of the keyboard players I believe have done important work in the last 50 or 60 years.

PLAYER CREDITS
   
Billy Preston The Beatles, The Rolling Stone, Billy Preston, Mahalia Jackson,
  Andrae Crouch, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Sam
  Cooke, King Curtis, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Enrique Iglesias,
  Luther Vandross, Macy Gray, Jet
   
Benmont Tench Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morisette, Bonnie
  Raitt, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks,
  U2, Shawn Colvin, Johnny Cash, The Dixie Chicks
   
Roger Manning Jellyfish, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Blink-182
   
Bruce Hornsby Bruce Hornsby, The Grateful Dead, Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley,
  Bela Fleck, Bob Dylan, Ricky Skaggs
   
Stevie Wonder Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney
   
Elton John Elton John
   
Kenny Kirkland Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Sting, Youssou N'Dour, Tom
  Scott, Elvin Jones, Black Eyed Peas
   
Larry Goldings Maceo Parker, John Scofield, Michael Brecker, India.arie, James
  Taylor, John Mayer, Norah Jones
   
Jonny Greenwood Radiohead
   
Thom Yorke Radiohead
   
Mike Finnegan Crosby, Stills & Nash, Janis Joplin, Dan Fogelberg, Etta James,
  Los Lonely Boys
   
Jon Brion Aimee Mann, The Grays, Fiona Apple, John Hiatt, Peter Gabriel
   
Steve Nieve Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Mick Jagger
   
Mitchell Froom Crowded House, Neil Finn, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, Jonatha
  Brooke, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney,
  T-Bone Burnett
   
Bob Mayo Peter Frampton, Foreigner
   
Bill Payne Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, The Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt,
  David Lindley, Jackson Browne, Robben Ford, Emmylou Harris
   
Chuck Leavell The Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones, The Marshall Tucker
  Band, The Black Crowes, Eric Clapton, Gov't Mule
   
Jorge Dalto George Benson, Grover Washington Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Airto,
  Tito Puente
   
Nicky Hopkins The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Rod
  Stewart, Joe Cocker, Jerry Garcia
   
Chris Martin Coldplay
   
Don Grolnick George Benson, James Taylor, The Brecker Brothers, Bonnie
  Raitt, Steely Dan, David Sanborn, Linda Ronstadt, Paul Simon
   
Mike Garson David Bowie, Stanley Clarke, Free Flight, Smashing Pumpkins,
  Stan Getz, The Polyphonic Spree
   
Brian Eno Roxy Music, David Bowie, U2, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, The
  Neville Brothers, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads
   
Alain Mallet The Story, Jonatha Brooke, Paul Simon
   
Joe Sample The Crusaders, Joe Sample, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Jonatha
  Brooke, Ella Fitzgerald, Natalie Cole, B.B. King
   
Ray Charles Ray Charles
   
McCoy Tyner John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard
   
Herbie Hancock Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Quincy Jones, Jaco
  Pastorius, Mick Jagger, Bonnie Raitt, Pat Metheny, Milton
  Nascimento, Chick Corea, Joni Mitchell
   
Larry Knetchel The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Jerry
  Garcia, The Dixie Chicks
   
Rick Wakeman Yes, Rick Wakeman, David Bowie
   
Paul McCartney The Beatles, Paul McCartney
   
Keith Emerson ELP, The Nice, Rod Stewart
   
Dr John Dr John, David Fathead Newman, Rickie Lee Jones, The Neville
  Brothers, B.B. King, Edie Brickell, Buddy Guy
   
Sheryl Crow Sheryl Crow, Neil Finn, The Dixie Chicks
   
Larry Dunn Earth, Wind & Fire, Ramsey Lewis, Ronnie Laws
   
Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, Robert Fripp, Robbie Robertson,
  Youssou N'Dour
   
John Paul Jones Led Zeppelin, Donovan, Wings, Peter Gabriel, Foo Fighters
   
Lis Coleman Prince, Wendy & Lisa, Neil Finn, Michael Penn, Seal, Gwen
  Stefani
   
Spooner Oldham Bob Dylan, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young, Linda
  Ronstadt
   
David Paich Toto, Jackson Browne, Seals & Crofts, Don Henley, Steely Dan,
  Bob Weir, Tom Scott, Randy Newman, Michael Jackson, Pink,
  Elton John
   
Jai Winding Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, Barbra
  Streisand, Kenny Loggins
   
Charlie Lowell Jars Of Clay, Lincoln Brewster, David Wilcox
   
Steve Walsh Kansas
   
Kerry Livgren Kansas, Kerry Livgren, David Pack
   
Jyro Xhan Crystal Lewis, Rita Springer
   
Neil Larsen Neil Larsen, Rickie Lee Jones, George Harrison, Roy Buchanan,
  Tim Weisberg, Robben Ford, Diana Krall
   
Michael Omartian Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones, Susan Ashton, Seals & Crofts,
  Andrae Crouch, Amy Grant, Shania Twain, Eric Clapton
   
Greg Mathieson Larry Carlton, Joe Cocker, Rickie Lee Jones, Lee Ritenour, Jimmy
  Cliff
   
Alan Pasqua Giant, Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Tom Scott, Larry Carlton,
  Bryan Duncan, Peter Erskine, Allan Holdsworth
   
Russell Ferante The Yellowjackets, Rickie Lee Jones, Tim Weisberg, Robben
  Ford, Joni Mitchell, Ernie Watts
   
Art Neville The Meters, The Neville Brothers, Daniel Lanois, Robbie
  Robertson, Edie Brickell, Gin Blossoms
   
John Medeski Medeski, Martin & Wood, John Scofield, Bela Fleck, Gov't Mule,
  Blind Boys Of Alabama, Dar Williams, Steve Earle
   
Tyrone Downie Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, Ziggy Marley
   
Lafayette Leake Howlin Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Sonny Boy Williamson,
  Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Little
  Walter
   
Jimmy Smith Jimmy Smith, King Curtis, Wes Montgomery, Michael Jackson,
  Kenny Burrell
   
Rod Argent The Zombies, Argent, The Who, Nanci Griffith, Paul Carrack
   
Prince Prince, Kate Bush, No Doubt
   
Larry Young Larry Young, Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Carlos Santana, Jimi
  Hendrix, Jack Bruce
   
Richard Tee Paul Simon, Kenny Loggins, Hank Crawford, Quincy Jones,
  Roberta Flack, The Average White Band, Joe Cocker, Aretha
  Franklin, Tom Scott, David Sanborn, Peter Gabriel, Al Green
   
Paul Meany Mute Math, Tobymac
   
John Baggott Robert Plant, Portishead
   
John Bundrick The Who, Mick Jagger
   
Pig Robbins Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Bob
  Dylan, Joan Baez, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Randy Travis,
  George Jones, Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton, Ray Charles, Merle
  Haggard
   
Richard Wright Pink Floyd
   
Jeff Lynne ELO, Tom Petty, George Harrison
   
Jon Cleary Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Ryan Adams
   
Ian McLagan The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, The Small Faces, Rod Stewart,
  Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, John Hiatt, Buddy Guy, Patty
  Griffin
   
Roland Orzabel Tears For Fears, Oleta Adams
   
Dave Gregory XTC
   
Jack McDuff Jack McDuff, King Curtis, Kenny Burrell, Etta James, Roy
  Hargrove
   
Kipper Sting, Gary Numan
   
David Sancious Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stanley Clarke, Peter Gabriel, Seal,
  Living Colour, Eric Clapton
   
Donald Fagen Steely Dan, Barbra Steisand, Poco, Phil Woods, Boz Scaggs
   
Bernie Worrell Parliament, Funkadelic, Talking Heads, Gil Scott-Heron, Spin
  Doctors, Robben Ford, Gov't Mule, The Pretenders
   
Greg Hawkes The Cars, Paul McCartney
   
Otis Spann Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Howlin Wolf, Chuck Berry, Sonny
  Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Buddy Guy, Big Mama Thornton
   
Thelonious Monk Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis,
  Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, John Coltrane
   
Victor Feldman Miles Davis, Steely Dan, Dizzy Gillespie, Wes Montgomery,
  Frank Zappa, James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Scott
   
Paul Griffin Steely Dan, King Curtis, George Benson, Bonnie Raitt, Bob
  Dylan, Jimmy McGriff, Blues Traveler, Paul Simon
   
Steve Winwood Traffic, Steve Winwood, The Spencer Davis Group, Jimi Hendrix,
  Blind Faith, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Christina
  Aguilera
   
Teppei Teranishi Thrice, Dustin Kensrue
   
Clarence McDonald James Taylor, Seals & Crofts, Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt,
  Sam & Dave, Tina Turner
   
Jacknife Lee U2, Snow Patrol, Bloc Party
   
Joe Zawinul Weather Report, Miles Davis, David Fathead Newman, Dinah
  Washington, Cannonball Adderly, Nancy Wilson
   
Bill Champlin Chicago, The Sons Of Champlin, Bob Weir
   
Pete Townshend The Who, Pete Townshend
   
Chris Stainton The Who, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, The Alarm, B.B. King, Alvin
  Lee, David Gilmour
   
Phil Madeira Susan Ashton, Phil Keaggy, Travis Tritt, Margaret Becker, Amy
  Grant, Buddy Miller, Steven Curtis Chapman, Vanessa Williams,
  Sixpence None The Richer, Cindy Morgan, The Neville Brothers
   
Bernard Harvey Bob Marley, Burning Spear
   
Johnnie Johnson Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, John Lee
  Hooker, Linda Ronstadt, Aerosmith, Levon Helm
   
Garth Hudson Bob Dylan, The Band, Eric Clapton, David Lindley, The Call,
  Michelle Shocked, Tom Petty, Norah Jones
   
Korey Cooper Skillet
   
Earl Lindo Bob Marley, Taj Mahal, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear
   
Brent Mydland The Grateful Dead, Bob Weir
   
Chester Thompson Santana, Elton John, John Lee Hooker, Tower Of Power, Buddy
  Guy, John McLaughlin
   
Floyd Cramer Marty Robbins, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Floyd Cramer, Doc
  Watson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Chet Atkins, Brenda Lee,
  Carl Perkins, Marty Robbins, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Roy
  Orbison
   
Jimmy McGriff Jimmy McGriff, Hank Crawford, Albert Collins, Dizzy Gillespie,
  Buddy Rich
   
Booker T Jones Booker T & The MGs, Otis Redding, Stephen Stills
   
Thomas Dolby Thomas Dolby, Foreigner, Joan Armatrading, Joni Mitchell,
  Thompson Twins
   
Sly Stone Sly & The Family Stone, Elvin Bishop, Funkadelic
   
Greg Phillinganes Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Donald Fagen, Chaka Khan,
  Andrae Crouch, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Lionel Richie, Kenny
  G, Mariah Carey, Bela Fleck, Babyface, Quincy Jones, Mick Jagger
   
Lyle Mays Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Joni Mitchell

6 Responses to “Keyboardists To Hear”

  • Much flattered to be mentioned on such an illustrious list. A couple suggestions you might enjoy: Larry Goldings whose versatility and creativity are virtually unmatched these days (Maceo Parker, James Taylor, Michael Brecker, etc…) Bob Mayo 1951-2004 known to most as the keyboard player on Peter Frampton comes alive, and of course Jorge Dalto whose session work with George Benson and so many others is classic. Jorge left us much too soon at 39 in 1987, and of course Kenny Kirkland, revered by all jazz pianists but whose work with Sting is nothing to spit at :)
    Cheers
    Alain

  • Very good additions Alain. I can’t believe I forgot about Kenny Kirkland. I’m sure there are some other fine players that I left off. I’ll add these right away. Thanks!

  • Neal Larsen:

    Rob,

    Nice list! Let’s not forget Chris Stainton, Lyle Mays & Greg Phillinganes

    Peace,
    Neal

  • Ah, yes…I knew I forgot someone crucial…Lyle Mays is actually an influence on me and I left him of this list. Arrgh! Chris Stainton is there though-towards the end of the list. He’s one of the better keyboard players that people don’t talk about much. And Phillinganes is definitely worthy to be there, although not one of my personal favorites stylistically, he has played with as many heavyweights in the last 30 years or so as anybody. Thanks for the additions! I’ll put them up there right away.

  • John:

    Don’t forget Fred Mandel. Queen, Pink Floyd, Elton John, and Alice Cooper.

  • Yes, some good additions for sure……

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