Legendary Rock and Pop Music Piano Players

Freddie Mercury playing the piano

Source: https://stonemusic.it/53034/lenergia-pura-di-freddie-mercury-in-9-live/


In the history of classical music, many talented composers created their masterpieces on the piano: Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, Sergei Rachmaninov, Svyatoslav Richter, etc. But today we will talk about rock and pop music, in which also there were many excellent pianists of their time.


Freddie Mercury

“As a child, he was very fond of music, he listened to it at every opportunity. Folk, opera, classical, he liked everything. I think he dreamed of becoming a musician from his youth, ”said the mother of the future musician Jer Bulsar. Freddie very early became interested in music, which was immediately noticed by some of his teachers. It was they who advised Jer to find a good music teacher for his son. The young musician liked these lessons, and he quickly mastered the necessary technique of playing the piano, having received the IV level in theory and practice. Then Freddie began to sing in the school choir and participate in theatrical performances.


“I took piano lessons and I liked it. It was my mom's idea. She made sure that I was seriously studying, and I did up to grade 4 classical, practical and theory. At first I only practiced because she wanted to, but then playing the instrument began to give me pleasure. I play by ear and can't sight-read. Yes, I don't need it. Let others do it. I'm not a Mozart. This makes us more accessible for others” admitted Freddie Mercury. But according to his colleagues, the vocalist of Queen was very shy of his piano playing, he thought he was a bit of a mediocre piano player, so when the group began to attract Spike Edney, who plays keyboards, to concerts, the musician was able to fully concentrate on communicating with the audience. “Freddie's piano playing was exceptional,” recalls Brian May. - Magnificent, sometimes underestimated even by himself. His style of performance was very different from the classical one, which is taught in music schools, but it was very powerful and at the same time graceful, just like himself. He had a wonderful rhythmic approach. He could unmistakably lead the group forward. "


“It was great to play with him, especially from the drummer's point of view. He had a great sense of rhythm, ” adds Roger Taylor. Freddie composed many of his magnificent songs on the piano, which was always in his room. And the incredible talent of Freddie Mercury has yet to be revealed to future generations, who, I would like to believe, will be able to appreciate the musician's magnificent piano playing.



Queen guitarist Brian May also occasionally plays keyboards, but, by his admission, his technique still needs to be improved. “I would like to play the piano better. I play a little, but I don't have such a technique so that I can sit down at the piano and play what is in my head. I can more or less do this on a guitar, but a piano is a visual polyphonic instrument. It would be great if my fingers knew what they werhttps://www.perfectlygrand.com/images/blog-posts/1e doing. But I would like to play the piano, for me it would be a great happiness. Once I stopped learning to play it. Of course, I would like to have the ability to play the piano, but I probably will never be able to. But I'm happy that I became a guitarist."


Axl Rose

For his powerful and wide vocal range, the frontman of the popular group Guns N 'Roses is considered one of the best vocalists in the history of music. But he also plays well on the piano, on which he has composed many beautiful songs.



In his youth, William (the musician's real name) became interested in the music of Elton John, as well as David Bowie and Queen. The musician admits that he was especially influenced then by one of the early albums of the royal group - "Queen II". Then he decided to create his own music. He especially enjoyed playing the piano, which best embodied his songs.


The teachers also drew attention to the young man's musical talents, offering him roles in various school productions. “When I was in first grade, they wouldn't let me cross the street until I sang something from Elvis. In the third grade, during breaks, the teachers put me on a tree stump and forced me to sing songs to the younger children ... I played all the tasks only on the day of the lesson. The rest of the time I just sat in front of the piano and came up with something of my own. I still can't play other people's songs. "


Axl Rose, Guns N' Roses

Source: https://twitter.com/gunsnroses/status/1207724607417061377


Already with Guns N 'Roses, Axl Rose composed many beautiful songs, most of which he created on the piano. One of such compositions was the magnificent ballad "November Rain". It is believed that the author got the main idea of ​​the song from the story "Without You" by the journalist Del James. The plot of the book is built around the romantic relationship of a rock musician with his beloved, which ends tragically at the end of the story. Axl Rose, inspired by this story, decided to translate what he read into a song. But as the musician's friends recalled, he could not do it right away. For example, Tracy Guns, founder of the American rock band L.A. Guns, claimed that work on the composition began in the 80s of the last century: “When we were working for L.A. Guns (around 1983), he was already playing "November rain" on the piano. Already then. It was the only thing Axl knew how to play, but it was her. He kept saying, "Someday this song will get really cool." And I answered: “It's already cool. But, you know, it's not ready yet. " And every time we were in a hotel or somewhere else where there was a piano, he tried to play this music. And I said: "When will you finish it?" And he answered: "I don't know what to do with her."


But these efforts were not in vain: the song, which had been in the making for about 10 years, was finished in 1992. And until now this creation of Rose is considered one of the best in the work of the group.


Elton John

It is believed that Reginald Kenneth Dwight, the future Elton John, began playing the piano as early as four years old. By ear, he could remember and reproduce any melody. At the age of 11, he entered the Royal Conservatory of Music in London, where he studied for about 6 years. At the audition, without looking at the notes, he phonetically reproduced the work of Handel, played by the teacher.


Elton John, Farewell Tour. 

Source: Instagram @eltonjohn


Already at the age of 16, the young musician performed in front of the audience. From that time on, he began to play the piano in a local club. Soon, the young artist was able to save money for an electric piano, which he loved to play in his free time.



And to this day, Elton John's magnificent piano playing is considered one of the best in the history of pop music.


Jonathan „Jon” Lord

Few musicians have brought such a powerful mixture of classical and blues to rock music as Lord did ... "The band is now trying to evolve to succeed at what we do best," reflected Jon Lord in 1970. "This is what we call rock and roll." It took very little time, and he and Deep Purple succeeded.


Lord Of The Deep: In Praise Of Keyboard Maestro Jon Lord

Source: https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/fin-costello


John Lord died in 2012, but his mastery of the instrument at that time was so great and deep that one can only imagine what new works John could have created by adding them to his very impressive catalog, both inside and outside Purple.


As a teenager, John fell in love with jazz organ and was captivated by Jimmy Smith, and also fell in love with rock and roll. Childhood and youth preferences have defined Lord's style forever: a mixture of classics, jazz and rock and roll.



The classic ideas that Lord unleashed in DP in their early masterpiece Concerto For Group and Orchestra and April from the 1969 Deep Purple album came to the fore again in his later solo projects after he left the band in 2002.


A new version of Concerto For Group and Orchestra was recorded in 2011 by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with rock masters such as Bruce Dickinson, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Balsamo, Steve Morse and Guy Pratt.


John Lord

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X543J8bKHrE


In a 1970 interview with Beat Instrumental, Lord laid out his philosophy and the band's philosophy at that early stage in their development.


“We believe in experiment and excitement within the framework that we have set ourselves at this particular moment in time,” he said. “The actual group now is trying to develop into being good at what we're best at — which is what we call Rock 'n' Roll"


Richard Wright

Permanent keyboardist of Pink Floyd Richard "Rick" Wright, who stood at the origins of this legendary band, was born on July 28, 1943 in London. After graduating from the prestigious London school, he began to study architecture. During his studies, he met Roger Waters and Nick Mason and a year later dropped out of the university to study at the London College of Music.


Rick Wright, Pink Floyd

Source: http://www.soundbard.com/soundbard/louder-than-words-producer-andy-jackson-takes-us-exclusively-inside-the-making-of-the-final-pink-floyd-album-the-endless-river/, Jeremy Young


Wright's improvisation, jazz and keyboard play were an essential part of Pink Floyd's music. In addition to being a renowned performer on Farfisa and Hammond organs and the Kurzweil synthesizer, Wright regularly sang in the band and irregularly took on lead vocals on songs.


He learned to play guitar, trumpet and piano at age 12, recovering from a broken leg. His mother supported and encouraged him to play the piano. He took private lessons in music theory and composition at the Eric Gilder School of Music. Richard was influenced by the revival of traditional jazz during his practice with the trombone and saxophone as well as the piano. Unsure of his future, he entered Regent Street Polytechnic in 1962, which was later incorporated into the University of Westminster. There he met fellow musicians Roger Waters and Nick Mason, and all three joined a group formed by a classmate of Clive Metcalfe called Sigma 6.



Jazz was a major influence on Wright, especially Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He never considered himself a typical songwriter, preferring to create entire music albums with a specific theme, later saying, "If the words came out just like the music and we had nothing else to do, then a lot would be written." Several compositions attributed to Wright arose from improvisation and random sampling of ideas, some of which were enthusiastically picked up by his bandmates. Wright later said on one interview, "I just play and I don't think about what I'm doing, I just let it happen." Among other Pink Floyd members, Wright was the most modest, sitting at the keys and concentrating on the music.


In the 1970s, Wright listened to some modern progressive rock bands, and was especially fond of the early Peter Gabriel - front of Genesis. He later asked some of the musicians from Gabriel's solo touring group to play at Broken China. Wright loved to play the organ and considered the style he used at Pink Floyd to be unique. He played solo early in Floyd's career, often using Egyptian scales such as Matilda Mother or Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. His jazz experience led him to become interested in free-form music, with tempo being less important. Later, he was more interested in complementing each piece with an organ, electric piano or synthesizer as accompaniment, but still played solos from time to time.



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