RIP Billy Preston, 1946-2006
I'm saddened this evening to comment on the death of yet another notable musician. Keyboardist/singer/songwriter Billy Preston has died at the age of 59. He had been in a coma for some time as a result of a heart infection, ultimately passing away today. Preston had also long suffered from kidney failure.
Billy Preston was an iconic figure in the 1960s-70s, playing alongside Little Richard, Ray Charles, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Sly & the Family Stone, and The Rolling Stones (among others) as well as having his own successful solo career. He famously took part in the sessions that resulted in The Beatles' Let It Be album, and appears on the legendary Rooftop Concert (Jan. 30, 1969) that was posted here at C&T a while back.
Preston achieved stardom in his own right in the 1970s, with hit singles under his own name and performed by others. He co-wrote the Joe Cocker classic "You Are So Beautiful" and his own hits included "Will It Go 'Round in Circles", "Outa-Space", and "Nothing from Nothing". He also played the title role in the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie in 1978.
Preston struggled with personal demons in the 1980s, but seemed to have his life back on track since the early '90s. He even appears on the most recent Red Hot Chili Peppers album, playing clavinet on "Warlocks" from Stadium Arcadium. He will be missed very much. Here are a few of Preston's hits, several of which have been receiving regular play at my place as of late:
Billy Preston - Will It Go 'Round in Circles
Billy Preston - Nothing from Nothing
Billy Preston - Get Back
Billy Preston - Outa-Space [winner of 1973 Grammy for pop instrumental]
In addition, because it seems appropriate at the moment, here's another Preston tune. It's a bit out of context, but many of the lyrics are still applicable:
Billy Preston - I'm Really Gonna Miss You
Hats off to you, Billy. You made great music.