Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6: "Fifth Beatle" Billy Preston was born on this date in 2006 ...

... he died from hypertension and kidney disease when he was 59-years-old.


William Everett "Billy" Preston, a rhythm and blues legend, was born in Houston, Texas but spent most of his formative years in Los Angeles.

Billy was called the Fifth Beatle because he played keyboards on Let it Be, The White Album and Abbey Road. He is one of only two musicians to ever receive billing on a Beatles' album. (The other is Tony Sheridan.) The label of the "Get Back" single credits the artists on the record as The Beatles with Billy Preston.

He also played on the Rolling Stones' hit song "Miss You," and often played with Eric Clapton. He also did the organ work on Sly & the Family Stone's greatest hits. Preston's own hits included "Nothing from Nothing," "Will it Go Round in Circles," and "You Are So Beautiful," which Joe Cocker turned into an international hit.

Preston was actually mentored by Ray Charles, and acts like Little Richard, Mahalia Jackson, and James Cleveland had a huge impact on him at a young age. In the early 60s, Billy went to Europe with Little Richard who playing in Hamburg. The Beatles were the opening act and as the story goes he was the one who made sure they got fed.

Other stars Preston collaborated with include: The Band, Nat King Cole, Little Richard, Eric Burdon, Ray Charles, George Harrison, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, King Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5, Quincy Jones, Mick Jagger, Richie Sambora, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ringo Starr.

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