Billy Preston

Billy Preston (9 September, 1946 - 6 June, 2006) was a child prodigy pianist. He performed with Mahalia Jackson at the age of 16 and appeared as a young W.C. Handy in a 1958 bio pic. His first solo record was a gospel album called "16 Year Old Soul". ...show more

Billy Preston (9 September, 1946 - 6 June, 2006) was a child prodigy pianist. He performed with Mahalia Jackson at the age of 16 and appeared as a young W.C. Handy in a 1958 bio pic. His first solo record was a gospel album called "16 Year Old Soul".

Preston first came to widespread attention of a U.S. mainstream audience as the organist (and sometimes vocalist) in the house band on the television show "Shindig," popular during 1964-66. On tour backing Little Richard & Sam Cooke he met the Beatles (early in their career) in Hamburg, Germany (1962). He was later invited by George Harrison to join The Beatles in the studio for the filming/recording of Let It Be (1970).

Preston's most memorable performance with the Beatles is on the track Get Back. The apparent reason for the collaboration was the project was being done live--without overdubs--and the Beatles wanted a second keyboardist. Preston's soulful style was to compliment the rhythm-and-blues approach the Beatles had for this album. His was a genre they'd grown up listening to and were reaching back to/paying tribute to. ...show less