Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Back To Where He Once Belonged

Billy Preston has died, after being in a extended coma due to kidney disease. Beatle fans know him as the 5th Beatle, and his claim to that title of unofficial bandmember is unchalleged. George Martin produced and even played on some of the Beatles finest tunes, but I doubt he ever jammed with them. Billy Preston, as seen on the "Complete Rooftop Concert" video and heard on the "Let It Be" album was an integral part of their sound at that point in time. His piano solo on "Get Back" is perfect, and his sensitive accompaniment on "Don't Let Me Down" helps make Lennon's plea for "a love that lasts forever" sound both desperate and hopeful.

His solo career, which peaked during my early teens, had hits such as "Nothing From Nothing" and "Will It Go 'Round In Circles", and put earthy church grooves onto Top 40 radio. His authorship of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful" surely kept the bills paid, and his recent appearance at the Concert for George tribute for the late Beatle was a high point. His great B-3 playing and soulful voice lifted the house band's version of "My Sweet Lord" and transformed the song from a simple prayer into a rousing Spiritual. Thanks, Mr. Preston for all of your music. Say Hi to George for me.


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