Best Rock Keyboard Parts
Keyboards (including piano and organ) have played as big a role in pop/rock music as guitars, and any other instrument for that matter. So let’s give them due credit! Here are some of our favourite picks from some of the most iconic parts ever recorded in rock music:
November Rain: Guns ‘n Roses
I wonder how many people who watched Axl Rose run up and down the stage of Roxy in 1986 wearing boxers and a snakeskin bomber jacket… Singing hard rock like he was possessed. And imagined him sitting at a grand piano playing this power ballad just a few years later. A part that is equally simple and beautiful, barely more than chords and a few turns. But, together with an equally simple string arrangement and sparse drumming, the parts set the song up for a series of huge crescendos that culminate with Slash’s guitar solo on the roof of a small desert church . And we won’t even start with the video like that…
Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan
This is one serious rock ‘n roll story. Dylan was recording in Nashville and invited Al Kooper to visit the studio. Kooper had far bigger plans than just watching. He was determined to play on a Dylan track. So he turns up early and in a reshuffle keyboardist Paul Griffin moves from organ to piano. In the confusion the organ ends up unmanned, so Kooper takes the seat. He is not confident on the organ. He barely knows how to turn it on. So when the band starts playing ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ he plays along but waits until he hears each chord before playing it. Hence the lagged effect you hear in the recording. Each stroke of the organ is behind the other instruments by an eighth note. The effect is irresistible. Dylan hears it. Loves it. As they say, the rest is history.
Jump: Van Halen
Witness true genius as Eddie Van Halen goes from a the simplest 3 chord progression on a flimsy sounding keyboard to one of the most epic solos in rock guitar. That’s how you tell the true greats apart – the ability to go from simple to mind-boggling when the time is right. There is almost no mention at all of guitar for the first half of the song as one of the greatest guitar gods of our time plays a hypnotic series C, F and G on keyboards. But when the time comes, all guitar hell breaks loose is one of those ‘where did that come from??’ solos. True genius in choosing the right thing at the right time, easy or complicated, all for the sake of the song.