Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Billy Preston R.I.P

The colorful Houston born keyboardist, who played with a slew of artists including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand and Miles Davis has died at age 59. Preston had battled chronic kidney failure and had apparently been in a coma since November.

Considered the 5th Beatle, his credits include appearances on famed LPs like "Let It Be", "Abbey Road" and the "White Album" as well as many of the members future solo discs and tours. He also has played hammond B-3 on some classic Stones discs like "Sticky Fingers", "Goat's Head Soup"and "Exile on Main Street", apparently leaving the Stones after not getting credit for helping write "Melody". He also played on Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" and Sly and Family Stone's "There's a Riot Goin' On"

Preston, whose career as a solo artist had highs including hits like "Will It Go Round in Circles", "Outa-Space" , "Nothing from Nothing" and "With You , I'm Born Again", also had some lows, like being arrested in LA some years back with a fairly young male prostitute. In 1992, he was ordered incarcerated for nine months at a drug rehab for his no-contest pleas to cocaine and assault charges. Five years later, he was sentenced to three years in prison for violating probation. By 1998, he had plead guilty to insurance fraud and testified against others in a million dollar scam case.

Preston's show biz career began at a young age, playing keys as a ten year old for gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and by age 12 portrayed the young W.C. Handy biopic St. Louis Blues, a 195 bio pic of the famed composer & music publisher. Preston first encountered the Beatles while on the road in Germany with Little Richard during the early years of their career. He was brought into the Beatle fold in 1969 by George Harrison, and played the part of musical peacemaker as the band's relationships deteriorated. He was with them often during their last recordings, and played their final rooftop show.

Beatles w/ Billy - Don't Let Me Down

His last recordings were on the Red Hot Chili Peppers "Stadium Arcadium" album and with Neil Diamond for his "12 songs" record, both produced by Rick Rubin.

Here's a duet Billy had a big hit with...

Billy Preston w/ Syreeta - With You I'm Born Again

and another big solo one as well

Billy Preston - Nothing From Nothing

Here's a song Billy wrote that was a huge hit for Joe Cocker, but has also been covered by everyone from Tammy Faye to Al Green...

Al Green - You Are So Beautiful

From 1972 and then Laswell remixed Panthalassa CD , here's maestro Miles Davis paying tribute to Billy Preston

Miles Davis - Rated X/ Billy Preston

Here's Billy playing a rouser with The Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones - Can't You Hear Me Knocking

I'll add to this bio soon, and perhaps give ya more tracks , but I'm a bit busy today, so check back tonight y'all

in the meantime here's some links to other posts going over his career with some links to key related music files from his ouevre...

Rolling Stones - I Got The Blues

Random Duck on Billy

Brooklyn Boy on Billy

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