March 08, 2006

Dizzy fingers

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When I was a child learning to play the piano, the two musos I aspired to emulate were Jon Lord, then of Deep Purple, and Rick Wakeman, then (intermittently at least) in Yes. This was the mid seventies, when rock and prog rock giants bestrode the globe like cape–wearing, private jet flying colossi (is that the plural of colossus?), and faster was very much better.

The phase passed, to the relief of everyone, especially my parents, who with hindsight must have been driven to the point of distraction by a ten year old trying to recreate minimoog solos on an elderly upright piano (though to their credit they never complained). But I retain a nostalgic soft spot for keyboard wizards so I was pleased to discover this clip of Rick Wakeman on YouTube. The music itself is nothing to write home about but his technique is still, to me at least, just dazzling. I've never seen anyone else play that fast with such great accuracy. I still play a little myself but I've decided that less – quite a lot less, in fact – for me will have to be more.

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hywel

    As a man who has seen Rick Wakeman live on his latest UK tour, I can safely say that he is one of the most astounding musicians ever although the Live in Cuba DVD suffers from the rather poor guitarist.

    08 Mar 2006, 23:02

  2. Personally, I think that the music in that clip is beautiful. Truly far beyond anything the current mainstream is putting out.

    I'm not an expert on keyboard players but i'd imagine that Jordan Rudess and Jens Johannesson can at least approach that kind of speed given that they're the poster boys for keyboard in modern prog and metal. It's always hard to tell though because such bands can always achieve speeds far beyond what they perform on albums.

    08 Mar 2006, 23:55

  3. Roger Lindley

    I had more or less the same experience as John – but with Keith Emerson. This was in the days when he was with The Nice, before all the self indulgent navel gazing that went on with ELP. Listen to something like "America", stunning.
    Unfortunately, I never got any further than "Chopsticks" on the keyboard.
    Jon Lord was too a great but with egos the size of Blackmore's and Gillan's, was never likely to get a starring role.
    Other great rock organists were the one on Santana's (early?) stuff and the one in the Doors. Sorry I can't remember either of their names.
    Strange how no really good rock keyboardists have emerged for thirty years. Or have they?

    09 Mar 2006, 10:54

  4. naz

    Rudess is a good call, and the "Children of Bodom" keysman Janne is awesome too. But Yes always has a special place.

    09 Mar 2006, 14:22

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