Superstars Who Gave Us Lovely Piano Music
Over the last 50 years, most of the top songs have been sung and played by piano men. There has ever been something special about a singer who tickled the ivories, and there have been vast piano hits across many genres.
If you lately saw Ray, the Oscar-winning movie with Jamie Foxx in the title character, you will know the saga of Ray Charles. In 1954 he transformed the face of music with his blow hit, I Got A Woman. He continued to write and perform hit after hit, almost all the way till he died at age 73. Arguably his most favorable and memorable song was written by Hoagy Carmichael. That was his 1960 version of Georgia On My Mind, which the state of Georgia made their official song in 1979.
Also in the Fifties and one of the men responsible for introducing Rock ‘n Roll to the world was Jerry Lee Lewis. His wild behavior, on and off stage, brought him a lot of attention. But for many his song Great Balls Of Fire remains a Rock ‘n Roll and piano classic. His performances were unique and crazy, and he would often play the piano with his feet, stomping on the keys and revving up crowds.
Stevie Wonder released his first hit album when he was just twelve and has had so many hits since then. Despite being blind, he was able to learn many instruments throughout his childhood, but it is his piano hits and harmonica that most people think of when they hear his name. For Once in My Life, Higher Ground, My Cherie Amour, Part Time Lover and I just called to Say I Love You are just some of the songs over the past five decades that have been hit for him.
Today he is a headliner in Vegas, selling out show after show, and I am sure Elton John knows how much of that he owes to his piano. He is known for his flashy dress and thousands of pairs of spectacles, but it’s his songs like Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart that turned him into a superstar. He performed another of his hits at the funeral of Princess Diana, Candle In The Wind, re-writing this tribute to Marilyn Monroe specifically for the Princess.
When he wrote his iconic song The Piano Man, Billy Joel made his mark on the music industry and gave him his first top 40 hit of many. Over the next decade he continued to write a few more hits like The Entertainer, It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me and Uptown Girl amongst others.
Today artists like Alicia Keys in the USA, and Jamie Cullum in the UK, continue the trend of the singing pianist, churning out piano hits across the globe. Alicia Keys’ Falling was one of the biggest hits of 2001, and she won five Grammy awards the following year.
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