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Who is the greatest pre-'80s keyboard player? Vote now!

Who is the greatest pre-'80s keyboard player?
(Image credit: D. Morrison/Getty)

GOAT hunt: While it would be wrong to say that keyboard players are the forgotten folk of the band line-up, it’s fair to say that many of them don’t quite have the profile of their guitar-toting colleagues.

Perhaps it’s because many of them spend a lot of time sitting down, or maybe it’s because they’re not so keen to push themselves to the front of the stage, but relative anonymity seems to suit a lot of keys-people.

That’s all about to change, though; as part of our exhaustive hunt for the greatest players of all time, we’re asking for you to vote for your keyboard-playing GOAT.

It’s time for these fleet-fingered musicians to stand up and be counted - preferably with a couple of three-tier keyboard stands set at right angles and within easy reach.

GOAT Hunt: Who are the Greatest Of All Time?

Our search begins with the hunt for the greatest pre-’80s keyboard player. Obviously, synth-poppers haven’t made the cut here - look out for them in our next poll - but you’ll find plenty of pop, rock, soul, funk and becaped prog titans on our list, plus nods to those who crossed over from the worlds of jazz, gospel and blues.

Pianists are pretty well represented, and players who made their name on the organ or by taming a monster analogue synth or two are included, too.

Our list is pretty extensive, but if you can’t spot your favourite player on here, feel free to nominate them using the ‘Other’ box.

Vote here - select up to 5

Says who?

While drawing up our shortlists, we've considered a mix of factors including, but not limited to, influence and innovation in their specific sphere, cultural impact and, yes, chops. 

We also apologise in advance for leaning into the world of popular music, broadly meaning the whole spectrum of rock, rhythm and blues, prog, soul and the rest. 

You will find jazz titans in the mix, but they're arguably under-represented, and your classical maestros will doubtless feel aggrieved. Sorry about that.

Disclaimer: Please file this GOAT Hunt under the category A Bit Of Fun. We're here to celebrate the musicians that have inspired generations and continue to influence the very best music made today. 

While ranking them is - if you insist on being serious about it - reductive and stupid, we're going to do it anyway. Just for fun. And along the way, we're going to showcase the best of the best. 

Bring on the GOATs.

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