THE TOP 50
although he performed with the reapers in the 1980s,
Kerry minner remains synonymous with one band: Gentle Giant. although every member of the band bar drummer malcolm mortimore was a multi-instrumentalist, only minnear played keyboards, although he also played cello, vibraphone xylophone, recorder, guitar, bass and drums. not to mention that he also sang, too. among a list of prodigiously talented musicians, minnear’s achievements stand proud. as the only keyboardplaying member of one of the most musically intricate of all progressive bands, it’s little wonder he rates so highly in this list.
You say: “the most melodic, contrapuntal, orchestral and possibly least rock’n’roll keyboardist in prog. he was a genius – just listen to
Cogs in Cogs or so sincere. he’s also a wonderful writer and singer on tunes like aspirations and think of me with Kindness. oh, for God’s sake, he’s a cellist too!”
it’s not so much where you start with evángelos odysséas Papathanassíou, more where when do you stop. aphrodite’s Child? heaven and hell? Chariots of fire?
Jon and Vangelis? Blade runner? his list of achievements as a keyboardist, pianist, synthesiser player, composer and more is seemingly endless. it has certainly been a stunning career for the 75-year-old Greek musician, yet it is also one that shows no signs of abating – his most recent studio album, 2016’s rosetta, is a fine piece of work, inspired by the space exploration of the european space agency. he also composed the music for Professor stephen hawking’s memorial, which was the music played over hawking’s own words as his ashes were interred at westminster abbey. how fitting.
You say: “the Greek keyboard god. not strictly prog, but progressive. one of the all-time best. he deserves to be on this list.” – Tony Shore
Perhaps the odd man out on this list, but a fantastic keyboard player nonetheless. deep Purple were unequivocally heavy rock, but lord’s early solo albums like Gemini suite and sarabande showed progressive inclinations. equally he was the man behind Concerto for Group and orchestra, which is pretty darn prog too. Great friends with rick wakeman and Keith emerson, lord would do deep Purple’s on stage introductions, often finishing with the line, “and i’m rick emerson!”
You Say: “simply the power and unique sound of the ‘purple’ organ that could compliment or ‘combat’ the guitar head on, and the classical background.” – Doug Upton
he’d already worked with Buddy miles, alice Cooper and Kiss before he replaced Kevin moore in dream theater, with whom he spent five years. he’s since worked with the likes of Billy idol, yngwie malmsteen, steve lukather and allan holdsworth, as well as forming Black Country Communion with Joe Bonamassa, Glenn hughes and Jason Bonham. he also recently reunited with his old dream theater pal mike Portnoy for the prog supergroup sons of apollo.
You Say: “in terms of aggressive, in-your-face rock keyboardists, it is hard to find a stronger player who is more fun to watch live. he’s played with everyone and with good reason, but i like his solo stuff the best personally. it’s so over-the-top it makes me giggle.”
– Pecknotes Productions
having met trevor horn while auditioning for tina Charles’ backing band, downes rose to prominence in the Buggles, whose Video Killed the radio star was famously the first song played on mtV. the pair joined yes for their 1980 drama album and tour, before downes hooked up with John wetton, steve howe and Carl Palmer to form the initially successful asia. also a renowned producer who has worked with the likes of Greg lake and mike oldfield, downes returned to yes in 2011, as well as remaining a member of asia.
You Say: “i doubt many readers will include Geoff in their lists, as most people think of the mile-a-minute virtuosos or flamboyant personalities. Geoff is always near the top of my list because he’s an excellent orchestrator, often saying more with fewer but the best-fitting notes. a masterful technician and sound designer and a heck of a nice guy!” – Brian O’Sullivan
although early in his career the young swiss-born keyboard player had worked with stéphane Grappelli and toured with John Coltrane, it was as a member of the prog rock band refugee, alongside former nice members lee Jackson and Brian davison, that moraz rose to prominence. he was plucked from refugee to replace rick wakeman in yes, with whom he recorded relayer, but was out of the band prior to wakeman’s return for Going for the one. he then joined the moody Blues with whom he played between 1978 and 1991 before maintaining an impressive solo career.
You Say: “technically great, and after a cracking album with the band rufugee, which had some terrific music and ideas, he stepped into the light with yes and the album relayer. though short-lived in the prog world, moraz left us with a great album, the centre piece being the wonderful Gates of delirium.”
– Mike Staggs