Wednesday Question: Greatest Keyboardist in Guitar-Driven Band

Votes and nominations inside...

Ultimate Guitar

For this week's traditional Wednesday Question, we'd like to give a nod to all the amazing keyboard players who played in predominantly guitar-driven bands and ask you folks to answer this:

Who is the greatest keyboardist ever to have player in a guitar-driven band?

THE RULES - post only one suggestion per comment after checking that your favorite wasn't already nominated (Ctrl+F and all).Multiple nominations of one musician create heavy confusion, since on one hand it's unfair to the given keyboardist to take into consideration only the most upvoted nomination, but seeing that multiple nominations allow one user to give two or more votes to the same individual, it's also unfair to other nominees not to discard it.

Finally, vote up the ideas you support and vote down the ones you dislike. We'll sum up your votes by Friday and bring you another traditional UG top list. Show us what you got now!

312 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Hell Kastedo
    Rick Wakeman in Yes
    Not to mention he had great individual album appearances on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Bowie's Hunky Dory.
    Jon Lord.
    I was scrolling and scrolling and starting to wonder if anyone was gonna mention him. Glad to see he can still fetch the gold "way" down here.
    Just going to leave this here:
    IMO the greatest key/organ solo in rock.
    There's always so much going on that you don't really notice, even on a song played as often as this, but it contributes to the recognisable sound of the song nonetheless.
    The first person that comes to my mind when I think of keyboards.
    Obvious answer. No only for his work on purple but also with whitesnake in their early albums.
    I won't nominate Ray Manzarek, because I always felt that the keyboards were more relevant in The Doors' sound, but still... Ray Manzarek.
    he also picked up the "bass" duties on the keyboard. what a guy. good nomination!
    Richard Wright (does he count?)
    Hard to say. Pink Floyd has always been about the keys as much as it was about any other instrument. Upvoted anyway since this was the first guy that came to mind when reading the article. Amazing songwriter and musician.
    I always suggest Pink Floyd in these wednesday's questions. So have my upvote
    Wright played sax, too, right? on Us and Them, if I remember right. Such a bummer he passed 8 years ago
    Let the votes decide if it does! which, by the way, you have my vote. I mean, beautiful guitar solos from David Gilmour are definitely a huge driving force of Pink Floyd, plus famous chord progressions/riffs...even bass lines. I'd say that's a winner.
    Rick was essential to Pink Floyd, but I'd not call them a guitar-driven band really. However judging by the number of votes on Mr Wright, they were. So here is +1 By the way do you know the story of how he played grand piano through a Leslie speaker and it ended up as Echoes?
    ~Maxi King~
    John Paul Jones. It has to be him.
    I think a lot of people don't realize just how crazy talented that guy is. He's like the least recognized member of Zeppelin, but he was arguably the key component to the band. And he can play the shit out of some keys.
    Geddy Lee/Alex Lifeson
    Oh, hell yes! Not to mention Geddy's like an octopus playing bass, synths and singing at the same time. Tom Sawyer anyone?
    John Paul Jones...I should have read every entry...crap..I was impulsive...
    If you're gonna throw somebody in here, go with someone that needs the attention higher up here and isn't mentioned just a few posts down... Like Edgar Winter.
    ...well if you're gonna judge at least read my entire post...anyways...Edgar Winter is amazing..I'm up voting him...
    Wasn't trying to judge, more just (hypocritically) saying we should refrain from latching onto other people's nominations, even though UG has created an environment where that's the best way to get your nomination seen. Also, you could always edit it (until they lock it) to be a unique nomination if you want to.
    Your husband must be a saint...
    Why did you change it from wife (as it said in my email alert) to husband? Is that supposed to hurt my feelings? Some of the coolest people I know are gay married, so thanks for the compliment.
    Sorry, I thought you were a girl. UG, please tell her to leave me alone.
    Now you changed your comment from "you're welcome" to this. I don't even know what the saint comment was supposed to mean anyway. You're not very good at insulting people if the best you can do is call someone a girl. I bet you could kill it out on the playground, though!
    I love Rush and they are both amazing musicians but this is laughable..... Neither are particularly remarkable keyboard players. Let's be realistic.
    Even Geddy himself will tell you he's not much of a keyboardist. But you have to admit, he's written some absolutely iconic synth parts for Rush, and really established the synth as a driving instrument in rock music.
    Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater
    He gets a lot of flack from fans who can't get the fuck over Kevin Moore or Derek Sherinian (though to be fair, those guys are also pretty amazing), but I really like what he brings to the table in playing, emotion (he actually can play grippingly emotional stuff, contrary to popular opinion), and innovation in technology (it's because of him that half of my synths are now smartphone-based!).
    Totally agree. I prefer him over Derek or Kevin any day. Those guys are skilled and all, but I just think Jordan fits witht he band better. He's also extremely skilled at improvising. The middle piano part from On the Backs of Angels was improvised and sounds amazing in my opinion.
    I would not deny that Ruddess has incredible talent as a player but I feel a lot of what he does comes across as tawdry contributions that really give the song no extra depth of feeling or emotion. Kevin Moore was able to offer something to the mood,atmosphere and dynamics of the songs. Of course this could be easily argued as subjective but when I listen to "Awake" and then something like "Train of Thought" I feel that the difference is pretty tangible.
    I have followed DT since the late 90's and,in my opinion, Kevin Moore's contributions are superior. He has a better sense of melody and knows what the song needs. DT went through a dreadful run of albums from Systematic Chaos to Dream Theater when they became ultra self-indulgent and padded songs out with overworked noodling. The thread for this traces back to Jordan's work on Train of Thought. He is undoubtedly talented but I don't regard him as being the better band member. He hasn't made DT a better band. I'm relieved to add that The Astonishing is a very welcome return to form.
    Awesome player but I wouldn't call DT a "guitar driven band". Nearly every song follows the guitar solo with a keyboard solo
    "Nearly every song"? They have shit tons of songs with amazing guitar solos that aren't paired with a keyboard solo. But either way, why would that matter? They are extremely guitar driven, with damn near everything they do.
    Haha, just instantly aggressive. Lighten up. My interpretation of the question was to name some keyboard players that simply play backing to the rest of the band but are also good. Jordan doesn't really do that. For example, take one of their best songs, (in my opinion their all time best) Octavarium. Keys dominate it for about 4 minutes and then its carried by flute and acoustic guitar. Then vocals carry it until the bass and drums get the front. Some more vocals and then there's the keyboard solo. Then the heavy guitar drives it right to the finale, vocals carry it to the climax and then the guitar takes it home. The melody, leads, and what would catch the ear of the listener is always changing from member to member. They aren't one of those bands like Van Halen or GnR where everyone knows the guitarist and maybe the singer but everyone else is a no name so I wouldn't classify them that way.
    You think more people know the members of Dream Theater than they know the members of GNR or Van Halen?
    Yeah, I think if someone is a fan of Dream Theater they probably know all the members. Most people that say they are fans of one of those bands wouldn't know the bassist or drummer or something.
    Well yeah, they're just more popular. People that are into Dream Theater go out of their way to listen to them, so they're already more likely to be more interested in them on average. They don't have many casual fans because they haven't reached anywhere near the level of saturation in the public consciousness as the other two bands. When is the last time you heard Dream Theater on the radio or heard one of their songs in a movie or a TV show? As someone who doesn't really go out of their way to listen to Dream Theater, I could only name most of the members because of sites like UG. But I couldn't tell you their bass player's name. I could name every member of the other two bands, though, and I'm sure most other people would be more likely to know their other members than Dream Theater's.
    jerome snail
    Kevin Moore
    He was wayyyyy better than Jordan Ruddess. I feel like Ruddess comes across like a 1970's anachronism in a lot of Dream Theater's songs. Moore brought something unique to them.
    Spot on! Moore was great in those early albums, and should get a kicker here for his work with OSI.
    Per Wiberg- Opeth (even though he is no longer in the band)
    Joakim Svalberg,their current keyboard player, is damn good as well.
    The dude is a talented musician other than keyboards, he can sing too. I urge anyone who hasn't heard Mojobone to give this a shot!
    Roddy Bottum from Faith No More.
    But are FNM a guitar-driven band?
    They're a vocalist-driven band, but I'd say it still counts since they're not ELP
    Gould, Bordin and Bottum are the core of the band and have the most say in the material And I wouldn't say the're a vocalist-driven band either. Patton grets attention because he's the vocalist (and one of the best in the world) but it's not what drives the band FNM are a music-driven band
    they don't have the most say, it's a completely collaborative process. Jim had a lot of songwriting credits on the albums before Angel Dust, and starting with Angel Dust, Mike Patton started getting regular credits for songs, including single-handedly writing some of their best songs like "Malpractice" and "Get Out". One of the most collaborative bands around tbh.
    "Roddy, Puffy, and myself like to jam together. We're the guys who started the band, so we like to get in the same room and play. A lot of my playing comes off the drummer. So when we get together, we can really work things out together and fine-tune stuff. A lot of times we come away with a bed to work from." --- Billy Gould And a quick look through writing credits for their albums has Gould's and Bottum's name for the most part. Yes, collaborative in that they work towards a final song/track, but the main creators/directors of the band are the original 3 members.
    Tony Banks of Genesis
    Genesis wasn't really a guitar driven band, it was a good blend of both guitar and keys imo
    i would say they had plenty of guitars before hackett left. they even had songs with three guitars with Tony playing the third
    Tuomas Holopainen from Nightwish
    Can you really say that Nightwish are guitar driven? I would say that keyboards (and samples of orchestr) are dominant in that band.
    I think there is still lots of guitar going on in there especially in the earlier stuff
    Flake from Rammstein
    As much as I love Rammstein, he's far from being the best Except if you count how good he can be the victim...
    I agree. I guess I nominated him more for his overall influence on the band's sound rather than his technical ability.
    You mean you nominated him because you like Rammstein and they have a keyboard player.
    He uses a lot of playback so yeah... But he's the 1 of 2 main reasons that rammstein got famous
    wouldnt say rammstein is a guitar driven band. Flake is awesome anyways thus +.
    him ! without a doubt ! Did you already try to play what he does on a threadmill ? He's a huge part of the R+ sound and atmosphere.
    Belmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Seriously the BEST.
    This as my witness.
    Benmont is one of the coolest players, superb at playing the rhythm at the right times. One of those players you don't initially notice, but would miss if he wasn't there.
    What's up with all these keyboard players being the shining star in their respective bands? I think this is the third time I've said it (and the third time I've meant it), but he is the most musically talented member of the Heartbreakers. There are a lot of songs where you'd forget he's even in the band, but when he gets the chance, he tears it up in the most tasteful ways.
    George Duke - Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, though I'm not sure if it wouldn't have been an exaggeration to call Mothers of Invention a predominantly guitar-driven band.
    I'm gonna upvote this anyways, because Duke was probably one of the best musicians Frank ever hired.
    Richard Barbieri deserves at least an honourable mention. His soundscapes, sound design an the layers he, sometimes really subtle, adds are amazing and are the most underrated part of Porcupine Tree if you ask me.
    He's great in the Porcupine Tree environment and really added a touch of uniqueness to the band.
    Rhys Fulber - Fear Factory. Under-rated. Demanufacture would never have been the same!
    EDIT: The guy a few replies up beat me to it, upvote his instead Billy Powell from Lynyrd Skynyrd deserves immense credit in this category. Even regardless of how you feel about southern rock or the band in general, the man was a machine.
    He was probably the most musically talented member of the band, too, which is really saying something. And he played them up until the day he died.