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Billy Preston

It's advantageous to get an early start on your chosen career, but Billy Preston took the concept to extremes. By age ten he was playing keyboards with gospel diva Mahalia Jackson, and two years later, in 1958, he was featured in Hollywood's film bio of W.C. Handy, St. Louis Blues, as young Handy himself. Preston was a prodigy on organ and piano, recording during the early '60s for Vee-Jay and touring with Little Richard. He was a loose-limbed regular on the mid-'60s ABC TV series Shindig, proving his talent as both vocalist and pianist, and he built an enviable reputation as a session musician, even backing the Beatles on their Let It Be album. That impressive Beatles connection led to Preston's big break as a solo artist with his own Apple album, but it was his early-'70s soul smashes "Outa-Space" and the high-flying vocal "Will It Go Round in Circles" for A&M that put Preston on the permanent musical map. Sporting a humongous Afro and an omnipresent gap-toothed grin, Preston showed that his enduring gospel roots were never far removed from his joyous approach. He continued to perform and record throughout the '80s, '90s, and 2000s, until he fell into a coma caused by pericarditis late in 2005; sadly, he never regained consciousness and passed away on June 6, 2006. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Billy Preston and Leon Russel doesn't get better.....r e a l music....... . . . . !
You go Billy didn't know he had a version of this song ok nice.
ne of the truy great ones!
My jam back in 1972! When I first heard this. I was blown away! Took this to Jr. High and the entire lunch room was dancing!! This man was a genius!
jlmontigny
edassist - my favorite song of all time from billy as well. This bio does not do the musician or the man justice.
pam6496
make that B3 Hammond talk to billy throw in the harmonica too.
I like you
Richard F. - I am jealous. Saw Leon a # of times back then, also, but never with Billie doin' a keyboard kickout like that.
petermartin6 5
People need to quit drugs...peri o d . .
....The Brilliant Billy Preston!!__N o wonder the Beatles and the Stones wanted him...in the Studio...& on Stage...wish you were still here Billy...but we have the music..._FYI . . . . J a g g e r would 'leave-the-s t a g e ' when Billy would do a set with the rest of the Stones....no t everyone would he do 'that' for.....only Billy.....(a n d that was when the Stones were at their 'Peak'...the y still wanted Billy to tour with them.!)..... n o t to overlook his 'stature' as the 'Fifth'-Beat l e . . . .
Alltel in Jville Fl. with the stones
delateja72
I loved his keyboard part on the roof top concert.
Mr Feel Good Music
I would have loved to see Billy Preston & Leon Russell!!! Must of been incredible.
teabone19
Yo, let's not forget his work with the Stones!

I saw Billy playing with Leon Russell back in the 70's.. 2 pianos on stage nose to nose. Wow!!
peterd929
What needs to be said - it's Billy Preston
smcdaniel38
I grew up on this music... Thanks Dad, miss you.
This is a George Harrison song!
I just love his solo in the Beatles song Get Back.
katngeo20038
Saw him in Clapton's band in the early 2000's. Exceptional talent and smiled the whole show!
I recently saw "UNSung" the life of Billy Preston..... I have been listening to his music every since.
....GOTTA LOVE THE MAN !!!!
Nothing from nothing; Billy Preston. / Bad as he wants to be! I love this song! Thank you, Lloyd Thompson.
I saw Billy Preston play in Laramie, Wyoming in 1971 or 1972 and, to this day, it is the best live show I have ever seen.
acegarage
I always wondered what the Beatles would have morphed into with Billy as the 5th Beatle...... ? ?
noramornings t a r
K...I'm in crazy funkadellic love
I think he did a song named "I'll make it with your love" i'm trying to find this song i can't seem to find it .Can u say which album i can find it on or what sight.
wayne-ksi
Billy Preston will always be one of my favorite soul artists. Though he will be remembered by most as a soul artist, it is a shame that the other accomplishme n t s noted by the those of you here hasn't been acknowledged in this bio. Hats off to all of here and the words you have written.
krudd3
@David - you're right....the y skipped all of the rock and roll background and focused on his soul career. For Georgia Harrison to let him sing My Sweet Lord is a testament to his respect among his peers - in all areas of music.
his afro wig fell off during a concert at winterland sf haha
No mention of his work with The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton & J J Cale, or even Neil Diamond? This bio was called in - Shame on you.
Billy Preston perform at the "West End in Dallas" in the late 80's and he was an amazing 3man show. He was an still remains one of the greatest
of all musicians.
what a loss to us all. he was truly amazing!
tonyl70
Was "My Sweet Lord" his or George's?
I already loved Billy when he performed at one of the "Summerthing " concerts on Boston Common, circa 1973 or so. Of all the many (more famous at the time) artists I was lucky enough to see at those open-air concerts, it was BILLY who was so infectious with his open joy of his music that he had EVERYone standing and singing and dancing...

One of my favorite songs EVER is his "That's the Way God Planned It" from the Concert for Bangladesh album...

Amazing talent, indeed! We miss you, Billy
I saw Billy at the University of Wyoming in 1971 or 72. We didn't get the big bands up there so I went to see everything that came along and man am I ever glad I did. Billy's show stands as one of the best I've ever seen. What an amazing talent so full of joy and charisma.
cransom1
the black beatle mr. preston you were a joy to listen to always dug your music and sound. cransom1 08

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