Jordan Rudess, the keyboard wizard, was born on this day, November 4, 1956. He is best known for his works with two times Grammy nominee Dream Theater and the prog-metal supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment. You might know him only by his eccentric beard, but actually, his impact on the modern progressive metal genre is undeniably huge.
Rudess was born into a Jewish family. At school, he was quickly recognized by his 2nd-grade teacher for his piano playing and thus, immediately given professional instruction. At the astonishing age of nine, he entered the Juilliard School of Music Pre-College Division for classical piano training, but as with any prog rock keyboardist, he grew an interest in synthesizers and the genre as a whole. Despite his parents’ and tutors’ opposition, he abandoned the classical piano for the time being and started his career as a solo progressive rock keyboardist.
Fun fact: When Pink Floyd was still working on The Wall, the producer Bob Ezrin was looking for a team of drummers to perform on the song “Bring the Boys Back Home”. Rudess was also invited since at the time, he was also playing the drums for a while. His performance, though, was rejected and this coincides with the time Rudess chose the keyboards as his main instrument.
After many projects and his solo album Listen, Rudess was voted by the readers as the “Best New Talent” in the Keyboard Magazine in 1994. This gained the attention of some rock/metal bands, especially The Dixie Dregs and Dream Theater. When both groups asked him to play with them, he chose the Dregs because it gave him more flexibility as a part-time member. Little did he know that his path would cross with Dream Theater again after working with Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci on the first Liquid Tension Experiment album in 1998. For the last 20 years, Rudess has been playing with Dream Theater while also pursuing a solo career and contributing to various albums as a guest musician.
We wish this keyboard wizard a happy birthday and hope that he will continue his fascinating magic for a long time.