June 06, 2006

Billy Preston: Dead at 59

Snapshots In My Time...
Of My Time.....Hauntings.

Wow! Another icon gone. Billy Preston died today 6-06-06 at age 59. I loved his music back in the day. He was also know as the 5th Beatle.

Billy Preston (September 9, 1946 – June 6, 2006) was an American soul musician from Houston, Texas, raised mostly in Los Angeles, California. He began playing piano while sitting on his mother's lap at age three. Preston collaborated with some of the greatest names in the music industry, including The Beatles, Sam Cooke, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, Sammy Davis Jr., Sly Stone, Aretha Franklin, George Harrison, The Jackson 5, Quincy Jones, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones. He was the only person to receive a credit on a Beatles single, playing the electric piano on "Get Back" as part of the rooftop concert. Billy Preston begun his career playing in the bands of Little Richard and Ray Charles as a keybordist. However was probably best known for his work with The Beatles (he is the only non-Beatle to receive label credit on a Beatles single: "Get Back"; The Beatles also released an early single with Tony Sheridan, but that is regarded as a Tony Sheridan single on which the Beatles played). He played on their 1970 Let It Be album and on the songs "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Something", from 1969's Abbey Road.

Signed to The Beatles' Apple label, in 1969 Preston released the album That's The Way God Planned It and a single of the same name (produced by George Harrison). His relationship with Harrison continued after the break up of The Beatles; he was the first artist to record My Sweet Lord (the single flopped), and he was on several of George's 70's solo albums. Preston also made notable and energetic contributions to The Concert For Bangladesh, a Harrison-organised charity concert, and, after George's death, The Concert For George. Preston also worked on solo recordings by two other ex-Beatles, John Lennon and Ringo Starr.

After The Beatles, Preston played keyboards for The Rolling Stones, alongside pianist Nicky Hopkins. Preston appears on the Stones' albums Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup, It's Only Rock'n Roll and Black And Blue. He toured as a support act with the Stones in 1973, and recorded his live album Live in Europe in Munich with Mick Taylor on guitar. In 1975 and 1976 he again toured with the Stones, this time getting to play two of his own songs, backed by the Stones, in the middle of every concert. The Stones and Preston parted company in 1977, mainly due to a row over money. He continued to play on solo records by Stones members, and made an appearance again on the Stones' 1997 Bridges to Babylon album.

The 1980s were lean years for Preston. He was arrested and convicted for insurance fraud after setting fire to his own house in Los Angeles, and he was treated for alcohol and cocaine addictions. Preston managed to conquer his problems in the early 1990s, and toured with Eric Clapton, and recorded with a wide range of artists. Preston played clavinet on the song "Warlocks" for the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Stadium Arcadium released in 2006. Although
very ill, he jumped out of bed after hearing a tape of the song given to him by the band, recorded his part, and went back to bed. Preston's final contribution was playing Gospel-tinged organ on the Neil Diamond album, "12 Songs". Billy Preston had battled kidney disease in his later years. Although he received a kidney transplant in 2002, his health continued to deteriorate. He died on June 6, 2006 in Scottsdale, Arizona, of complications of malignant hypertension that resulted in kidney failure and other complications. He had been in a coma since November 21, 2005.


  1. I will miss his music, thank you for the great selection too choose from and buy!