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Tori included in a Chicago Sun-Times article about the Piano in Rock music
April 10, 2003

Updated Fri, Apr 11, 2003 - 4:35pm ET

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The article lists many artists associated with the piano. Tori is listed under "The Good". There is also a list of the bad, and the unsung heroes of the piano.

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88 keys to a grand career


Back before he became "The Killer," Jerry Lee Lewis was run out of Nashville for daring to tinkle the old 88s. When label honchos told him that he'd have to switch to the guitar, the Ferriday Fireball gave 'em a one-fingered salute and moved on down the road to Memphis. At Sun Records, he found a home conducive to his uniquely eclectic style of boogie-woogie, gospel, country, R&B and rock.

Until the rise of Lewis and his fellow '50s pioneers Little Richard and Fats Domino, the piano had a strictly Poindexter status, as the preferred instrument of longhairs, lounge lizards and show-biz lunatics (a la Liberace). But with the wild abandon of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," his first hit, Jerry Lee made the piano safe for rock.

When Elton John and Billy Joel team up for three sold-out shows at the Allstate Arena, they'll salute what still makes the piano grand with their rock theater of the absurdly fantastic. Whether cavorting across the stage or reclining behind their baby grands, EJ and BJ, like Jerry Lee before them, realize that rock at its best celebrates rebellion as well as the simple joy of stayin' alive. And here's a glissando down a list of equally talented greats:


Professor Longhair--The man who started it all, way down yonder in New Orleans.

Jerry Lee Lewis--OK, Jimmy Swaggart is a cousin. And he married another. And was the subject of the bizarre Dennis Quaid biopic. But "the Killer" gets props in spite of all that.

Fats Domino--He is the fat man, and we found our thrill on Blueberry Hill and throughout his catalog.

Bruce Hornsby--Improved Robbie Robertson's "Storyville." Gigs with the Dead. That's just the way it is.

Gregg Allman--One of the kings of the keys, powering one of rock's great juggernauts, the Allman Brothers Band. (Disregard the ugly business about marrying Cher.)

Tori Amos--Her sultry, freaky compositions helped provide a road map, for better or worse, for the tide of female singer-songwriters that continues to this day, from Fiona Apple to the poppy Vanessa Carlton.

Ray Charles--What'd he say? Plenty. One of the giants.

Stevie Wonder--A chart-topping youngster, a legend in early adulthood and a continuing force, despite "I Just Called to Say I Love You."

Carole King--One word: "Tapestry." What else is there to say?

The Bad Plus--Hey, you find another piano-based jazz trio that can tear into covers of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Aphex Twin and "Iron Man."

Ben Folds Five--Sure, radio beat "Brick" into the ground, but it sure grabbed you the first few times.

Alicia Keys--She helped return musical ability to the list of prerequisites one needs to be a girl-pop starlet.

Biz Markie--Of 1990 "Just A Friend" fame. Come on, that song was tremendous.

DJ Premier--The hip-hop DJ that has got to be the sure shot loads many of his beats with thick piano loops and sinister melodic phrases. (See "All 4 That Cash.")

Coldplay--Chris Martin's big rock chords are all over "A Rush of Blood to the Head," namely on the machine-gun "Politik" and the inescapable radio staple "Clocks."

Norah Jones--A Grammy goddess and the perfect Ravinia act.


An incomplete list of the people who have made piano in rock 'n' roll cool


Johnnie Johnson--He played the piano on Chuck Berry's golden hits.

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan--Diminutive but biker-tough original keyboardist for the Grateful Dead.

Nicky Hopkins--Died in 1994 at age 50, but not before working on seminal recordings with the Stones, Who and Kinks as well as Jeff Beck.

Roy Bittan--The piano man behind Bruce Springsteen's "Racing in the Street," "Backstreets" and "Jungleland."

Garth Hudson--Blended into the background of The Band, in spite of magnificent playing.

Pinetop Perkins--One of Muddy Waters' keys to success.


John Tesh -- Now well into his second decade as Own Punchline. (At press time, no one had been convinced to check out his version of "Up Where We Belong.")

Marvin Hamlisch--Smarmy Hollywood soundtrack king guilty of defanging Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" for "The Sting" and neutering Pachelbel's Canon in D Minor for "Ordinary People."

Jim Brickman--New Age miscreant's airy soundscapes leave one banging one's head against the wall of sound.

Liberace--The candlabras. The sequins. The musical claptrap. So uncool, he was almost cool. (Hey, he was a special guest villain on the old "Batman" TV show!) Almost. The model for much of Elton John's regrettable '70s silliness.

Richard Clayderman--Fair-haired purveyor of piano pap has successfully made the transition to Web-based sales from his days hawking albums on late-night TV. "So you don't forget, call before midnight tonight."

Posted by: Mikewhy

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