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Piano Rock Classics, the Early Years

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Renowned Early Rock Songs Featuring Piano

Rock music has generally been a guitar-based genre, with piano largely relegated to fill-in status. But many classic rock songs feature piano in the forefront, and many artists use piano as their primary instrument to this day. In this article, we will discuss several piano-rock classics.

Jerry Lee Lewis: Great Balls of Fire

Jerry Lee Lewis was a true Rock n’ Roll madman, and the first major artist in his genre to use piano as his primary instrument. Although “The Killer” recorded many classic songs, including “Breathless” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” this song is the one everyone knows and loves.


Little Richard: Good Golly Miss Molly

Another true original, Richard Penniman proclaimed himself the architect of rock and roll. Considering his contribution to rock, it’s hard to argue with his statement. He was one of the earliest artists to spearhead the transition of R&B into Rock and Roll. “Good Golly Miss Molly” has always ranked high in “Greatest Rock Songs” lists, and has been covered by many rock artists. Take a listen to a music legend.


Fats Domino: Blueberry Hill

The pride of New Orleans, Fats Domino was another piano rock pioneer, possibly the one who kept the music most firmly rooted in the Blues. Alive and kicking to this day, he is still an inspiration to rockers of all generations. Along with “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans,” this stands as one of his signature tunes.


Elvis Presley: Can’t Help Falling in Love

So much has been said and written about The King that it is impossible to add anything new here. Although many of his songs had piano as a backing instrument, few of them had piano as the lead instrument. This song, arguably the greatest of his ballads, was featured in the movie BLUE HAWAII and features prominent piano.


The Rolling Stones: Let’s Spend the Night Together

Featuring a rollicking piano intro by frequent Stones collaborator Jack Nitzsche, one of the most suggestive songs in their catalog is also one of their most memorable. When performing the song on the Ed Sullivan show, they were asked to tone down the lyrics, which they begrudgingly did. They then showed up for their second song in Nazi outfits and ordered off the set by an enraged Sullivan.


The Beatles: Let it Be

The Get Back sessions of 1969 which eventually produced the LET IT BE album and film for United Artists were rough times for the Beatles. Band relations were at an all-time low. In particular, feeling increasingly put upon by Paul McCartney, George Harrison left the band during the fractious sessions and had to be persuaded to return. They performed together in public for the last time during the sessions, in an all-too-brief rooftop concert. Yet despite the rancor and unpleasant conditions, they managed to put together an album of truly great songs. The title track, featuring McCartney on piano and Billy Preston on keyboards, is one of the loveliest rock songs ever recorded. The version of “Let it Be” performed in this clip from the film is considerably more stripped down than the Phil Spector-produced record.



This article is only the beginning. Future articles will pick up where this one left off and feature works by Elton John, Billy Joel, and others.

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