THE TOP 50
Given that Jethro Tull grew out of The John Evan Band, their keyboard player between 1970 and 1979 is a staple part of the band’s history. He has run his own construction company for years now, but appeared on video dressed as a flower for Tull’s recent shows.
You say: “Understated perhaps, but always effective.” – Danny Solomans
A real jazz fusion legend, a keyboard player, pianist, bandleader and a composer, Hancock’s early work with Donald Byrd and Miles Davis schooled him in jazz. With albums such as Head Hunters, he ruled fusion, and with 1983’s Rockit, he invented jazz hip-hop.
You say: “Up there with Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return To Forever as a true fusion master.”
– Kim Waterford
Andy Tillison has been a major part of the modern progressive music scene since he formed The Tangent in 2002. He’s an artist dedicated to his craft, and is always looking to expand on his own musical horizons with unique collaborations.
You say: “Great vision, heart, musicality and technique! Each album is better than the next!”
– Rich Ebersole
Instrumental in the formation of Hawkwind and an early member of Gong, Blake’s own unique musical vision found its feet with 1977’s Crystal Machine and 1978’s Blake’s New Jerusalem. He’s still pioneering new sounds with Crystal Machine.
You say: “A fluid and inventive player who has excelled in Gong, Hawkwind and solo… Can tackle fusion, cosmic and ambient with ease and grace.
A top bloke!” – Amy Hassinen
Nolan came to prominence when he joined neo-proggers Pendragon in 1986. He remains with them today, as well as having formed UK prog rockers Arena.
He’s also worked with Shadowland and Strangers On A Train, as well as indulging in his own theatre company Caamora.
You say: “Everything he touches seems to turn to gold, which is appropriate given Arena’s song Midas Vision.” – Chris Ryder
Argent’s work with The Zombies and Argent, both bands he founded, has established his reputation as an excellent keyboard player, harpsichordist and organist, as well as a songwriter of note. He penned hits such as She’s Not There and Hold Your Head Up, taking prog high up into the charts.
You say: “Very underrated, but his work with The Zombies and Argent put him up there with best keyboard players.” – Ian Pope
Crane’s incendiary organ playing for both The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster set him out as one of the progressive world’s most unique talents. He also worked with Rory Gallagher, Peter Green and even Dexy’s Midnight Runners before he succumbed to depression, committing suicide in 1989.
You say: “Crane’s powerhouse keyboard sound in Atomic Rooster was as heavy as the guitars, yet he was also capable of beautiful introspection.” – Mike Simkiss
Gilmour didn’t just add the epic keyboard sound to Canadian pomp rockers Saga, but he also added saxophone and vocals as well. However, it’s the lush waves of synthesiser and keyboards that colour the band’s albums that he’s best loved for.
You say: “Jim Gilmour had the perfect blend of sound, ideas and technique.” – Frank
Moore was asked to join the fledgling Dream Theater by high school pal John Petrucci, colouring the band’s first three albums with his big keyboard sound. Since then he’s enhanced his prog credentials with OSI, Chroma Key and his own solo work.
You say: “Speed and dexterity, soul and heart, and what a songwriter.”
– David Rogers
Manners joined the seemingly ever-increasing Big Big Train line-up in 2012, in time to work on both their English Electric albums. His dexterous keyboard playing has lent much to the band’s sound ever since. As if that wasn’t enough, he sometimes plays double bass as well!
You say: “Danny Manners of Big Big Train is one of the best keyboard players in modern progressive rock I can think of.” – Joshua Downe
Before he made his name in the progressive world for providing highly atmospheric keyboard sounds with Camel, Bardens had already worked with some of music’s biggest names, including the likes of Rod Stewart, Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green. He’d also work with Van Morrison later in his career, before sadly succumbing to cancer in 2002.
You say: “Peter passed away a few years ago but his music lives on. Besides being in the Canterbury scene with Camel, he also played with Van Morrison on his Wavelength album.”
– Dan Page