Dream Theater Wiki

Jordan Rudess.

Jordan Rudess (born Jordan Charles Rudes on November 4, 1956) is an American progressive rock keyboardist best known as a member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater. Rudess also has an extensive solo career, more so than any other current Dream Theater member. Rudess is known as a proficient rock keyboardist known for his extensive use of keyboard technology, as well as a pianist. Rudess releases a mixture of Metal and Classical albums, using pre-written material, improvised material and a mixture of both. DigitalDreamDoor.com voted Rudess #20 on the list of Greatest Rock Keyboardists Of All Time.

Early Life and career[]

Rudess was born in 1956 into a Jewish family. Ever since a young age, Rudess has shown an interest in music and a keen musical talent. He was recognized by his 2nd grade teacher for his piano skills, which led to private tutors being provided for him. Rudess entered the prestigious Julliard School of Music at the young age of nine, taking part in the Pre-College Division for classical piano training.

By his late teens, Rudess became more and more interested in rock music and synthesizers, and despite his parents and tutors not approving, he turned his attention towards synthesizers and progressive rock music. By the late 80's he had worked with various musicians and projects, becoming a sought after session musician. In 1994 Rudess won a Keybard Magazine poll for "Best New Talent" and was actively courted by The Dixie Dregs and Dream Theater, both of whom were looking for keyboardists.

Rudess auditioned successfully for both groups, though Dream Theater offered a full time position and The Dixie Dregs offered a part time touring position. Although he played a single show with Dream Theater as a favor, Rudess chose The Dixie Dregs, due to the part-time position being more accommodating towards his desire to start a family.

During his stint with The Dixie Dregs, Rudess formed a strong friendship and working relationship with drummer Rod Morgenstein. The genesis of this pairing occurred when a power outage caused all of the Dregs' instruments to fail except for Rudess and Morgenstein's, and they performed improvisational music with each other for some time until power was restored. This caused them to perform together regularly, which led to the inception of Rudess/Morgenstein Project.

In 1997 Rudess was asked by Mike Portnoy to be a part of the super-group Liquid Tension Experiment along with John Petrucci and Tony Levin. The group recorded and released two albums together, and Portnoy and Petrucci were so impressed with how well they worked with Rudess that they once again offered Rudess the keyboardist spot in Dream Theater, to which he this time accepted, replacing Derek Sherinian and appearing on every Dream Theater release starting with Scenes from a Memory, though he appeared on a CD-ROM extra for Cleaning Out The Closet.

Role in Dream Theater[]

Jordan Rudess' role in Dream Theater is fairly unique. Although he is not a founding member like Petrucci and John Myung, and defers to them in any disagreement, he is considered a seasoned and highly respected voice in the band, contributing greatly to the creative musical direction of the band, though he has never written any lyrics for the band. Jordan Rudess is also by far the oldest member of Dream Theater, which might have raised the same concerns as with Charlie Dominici, however he has proved to be the perfect fit for the band despite this.

Relationship with other musicians and fans[]

Rudess is often seen as a very likable, funny person whose wry humor and ingratiating matter endear him to most. Rudess has shown to be a strong proponent of "musicians respecting each other" and has little regard for musician "trash talk", and doesn't partake in such. One such example was when Terry Bozzio badmouthed him at a drum clinic, Rudess responded on his website with a tirade about disrespect between musicians, though he did not name Bozzio directly.

Rudess seems to have a very good relationship with his bandmates, especially Portnoy, and there has never been any reports of any sort of dispute between Rudess and any member of Dream Theater. Rudess also has strong friendships and working relationships with other musicians such as Rod Morgenstein, Kip Winger, David Bowie and his protegé Daniel J.

Rudess' relationship with his fans is also good. Much like Portnoy, Rudess goes out of his way to accommodate fans, particularly on his website, where he takes part in forum discussions and posts blogs and videos. He owns a YouTube account of the name JCRUDESS, where he regularly posts videos of improvs, practice techniques, or simply sightseeing around different countries the band has encountered while touring their new album. Rudess is known to be very approachable and friendly to fans and willing to talk with them, particularly about music.

Solo career[]

Aside from his work with Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment and various other projects, Rudess enjoys an expansive solo career, started well before joining Dream Theater, though particularly taking off since then. Many of Jordan Rudess' albums are not available in stores, instead preferring to sell them through his website and, more recently, music download services such as iTunes.

Rudess' rock and metal albums tend to be mostly instrumental, though he occasionally will have vocal talent such as Kip Winger appear. His classical albums tend to be instrumental improvisations, sometimes from live concerts such as 4NYC which was recorded from a tribute concert he did after 9/11.

Rudess has also released two albums of cover songs. The first, The Road Home contains covers of classic progressive talents such as King Crimson, Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The second, Notes On A Dream has Rudess covering various Dream Theater songs, using his unique piano improvisational style.

Other Skills[]

As a musical prodigy, Rudess' talents are not limited to merely playing keyboard. Rudess is an accomplished musical writer, and can improvise music on the fly to great success. Rudess also occasionally will write lyrics, though he has never done so for Dream Theater. Rudess also is a very proficient guitar player, and will occasionally play guitar on stage with Dream Theater for special occasions. Rudess is also an accomplished singer, but has to date never sung with Dream Theater.


Rudess says his influences as a keyboardist are Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz. His favorite bands include Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Jimi Hendrix, Autechre, Aphex Twin and G.Flores.

Use of technology[]

While many keyboard players in progressive rock tend towards bringing numerous keyboards on stage, Rudess took full advantage of the possibilities offered by the Kurzweil K2600xs during his usage from the 1990s to 2004. Often sampling sounds from other keyboards, Rudess creates a series of setups, each of which maps different sounds to different layers and key ranges of the keyboard controller; these setups are then arranged in the order they will be required for a gig, and cycled through one at a time with a control pedal.

While Rudess' physical method of changing live setups will more than likely remain the same, his choice of hardware to implement this changed as of 2005. Citing a need for better tour support and more current technologies (his Kurzweil 2600's maximum sample memory of 128 MB had become insufficient for his touring needs), Rudess switched keyboard endorsements from Kurzweil to Korg's new flagship Korg Oasys workstation (which supports up to 2 GB of sample memory [1]), which he first used on Dream Theater's 2005-2006 20th Anniversary tour, along with a Receptor and a Haken Continuum triggering a Roland V-Synth XT and a Synthesizers.com Modular. Rudess is the first well known keyboardist to bring a Haken Continuum on to a live stage.

On Dream Theater's 2007-2008 "Chaos in Motion" world tour, Rudess' rig features several new devices; a Korg Radias, a Manikin Memotron, and a Zen Riffer keytar. Rudess stopped using his Synthesizers.com modular after the European leg of the tour. During the Progressive Nation tour, he introduced on the stage a Kaoss Pad 3 for the band's encore medley.


Studio Equipment

  • Korg Kronos (Current keyboard)
  • Korg OASYS (88 keys)
  • Korg Triton Extreme (88 keys)
  • Haken Audio Continuum Fingerboard
  • Muse Research Receptor
  • Kurzweil K2600X/S (88 keys)
  • Kurzweil K2000VP
  • Kurzweil K2600R
  • Kurzweil PC2R
  • Roland Fantom-X8
  • Minimoog Voyager
  • Roland V-Synth XT
  • Roland VP-550
  • Roland SH-201
  • Modular synthesizer
  • Dave Smith Instruments Evolver Keyboard
  • Lap steel guitar
  • Harpejji by Marcodi Musical Products, LLC
  • Nord Wave
  • Moog Little Phatty
  • Stylophone 350S
  • Yamaha Tenori-On
  • PRS 6 string guitar
  • Music Man John Petrucci 6 string guitars

Virtual Instrument

  • MOTU MachFive
  • MOTU MX4 Soft Synth
  • Korg Legacy Collection
  • Spectrasonics Omnisphere
  • Spectrasonics Atmosphere
  • Spectrasonics Trilogy
  • Spectrasonics Stylus
  • Native Instruments Komplete 2
  • Native Instruments Absynth
  • Native Instruments B4 Organ
  • Native Instruments Guitar Rig
  • Native Instruments FM7
  • Native Instruments Pro 53
  • Synthogy Ivory

Live Rig

  • Korg Kronos (88 keys)
  • Korg OASYS (88 keys)
  • Korg Triton Extreme (88 keys)
  • Roland Fantom-G8
  • Freehand Systems Music Pad Pro
  • Muse Receptor
  • 2x Roland V-Synth XT
  • 2x Kurzweil K2600R
  • Roli Seaboard
  • Lap steel guitar
  • Haken Continuum Fingerboard
  • Zen Riffer ZR2
  • Mackie 1604VLZ Pro Mixer
  • APS Power backup
  • Glyph and Iomega Hard drives
  • Korg Kaoss Pad 3
  • Manikin Memotron
  • Korg Radias
  • Synthesizers.com Custom Modular Synth

Also, at the time of writing, Rudess is having a custom 8-string guitar built for him by Druzkowski Guitars. He released a teaser image on his Instagram page, showing the fretboard with his signature Wizard logo inlaid at the 12th fret. It is currently unknown if he will be using this on Dream Theater's upcoming 14th album, or for solo work.


Solo albums[]

  • 1988 - Arrival
  • 1993 - Listen
  • 1997 - Secrets of the Muse
  • 1999 - Resonance
  • 2000 - Unplugged (live)
  • 2001 - Feeding the Wheel
  • 2002 - 4NYC (live)
  • 2004 - Rhythm of Time
  • 2006 - Prime Cuts (compilation)
  • 2007 - The Road Home
  • 2009 - Notes on a Dream
  • 2013 - All That is Now
  • 2014 - Explorations
  • 2015 - The Unforgotten Path
  • 2019 - Wired for Madness
  • 2019 - Heartfelt
  • 2020 - Unplugged
  • 2021 - A Chapter in Time
  • 2023 - Piano & Orchestra
  • 2024 - Permission to Fly

With Dream Theater[]

Studio Albums[]

Extended Plays[]

Live Albums[]


Fan Club CDs[]

Offical Bootlegs[]

Live Series[]
Studio Series[]
Covers Series[]

With Liquid Tension Experiment[]


  • 1981 - Speedway Boulevard with Speedway Boulevard
  • 1995 - Romscape
  • 1996 - Steinway To Heaven
  • 1997 - Rudess/Morgenstein Project
  • 2000 - An Evening with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess (live)
  • 2001 - The Official Bootleg (with Rod Morgenstein)

Guest appearances[]

  • Vinnie Moore - Time Odyssey (1988)
  • Tom Coster - Did Jah Miss Me? (1989)
  • Annie Haslam - Blessing In Disguise (1994)
  • Nóirín Ní Riain - Celtic Soul (1996)
  • Kip Winger - This Conversation Seems Like A Dream (1997)
  • Rhonda Larson - Free as a Bird]] (1999)
  • Paul Winter and The Earth Band - Journey With The Sun (2000)
  • Scott McGill - Addition by Subtraction (2001)
  • Prefab Sprout - The Gunman And Other Stories (2001)
  • David Bowie - Heathen (2002)
  • Jupiter - Echo and Art (2003)
  • Neal Morse - ? (2005)
  • Daniel J - Losing Time (2005)
  • Neil Zaza - When Gravity Fails (2006)
  • John-Luke Addison]] - Multiple Valences
  • Behold... the Arctopus - Skullgrid (2007)
  • K3 - Under A Spell (2007)
  • Ricky Garcia - Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (2008)
  • Steven Wilson - Insurgentes (2008-2009)
  • Ayreon - The Theory of Everything (2013)