From the Vault...


Billy Preston
"The Best"

© A&M Records

Year of Release: 1977

track listing
  • Outa-Space
  • Will It Go Round
    In Circles
  • That's The Way
    God Planned It
  • Struttin'
  • You Are So Beautiful
  • Nothing From Nothing
  • Get Back
  • I'm Really
    Gonna Miss You
  • Space Race
  • I Wrote A Simple Song

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

    Billy Preston related sites:
    Billy Preston Website
    Previous Review: #1499
    Various Artists--The Disco Years, Volume 2: On The Beat (1978-1982)
    Next Review: #1501
    Paul McCartney--Off The Ground
    Billy Preston
    "The Best"

    This week we take a look at one many called him "The Fifth Beatle." No, not Yoko Ono. Actually, another musician, keyboardist, songwriter, performer, Billy Preston. His music may or may not have been long and extensive as others, but he did accomplish some great songs that would reach #1 on the Billboard singles chart: Two songs in particular, "Will It Go Round In Circles" and "NOthing From Nothing." As a "Beatle" he was best known as the keyboardist on the Let It Be sessions. Most importanly, the piano player on "Get Back." He would later appear in the movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (based on the Beatles album, and starring the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton). Preston's version of this Beatles classic is on this compilation, assuming it was from the Sgt. Pepper soundtrack.

    This week's album by Preston is his 10-track The Best. Only 10 songs here, yet after listening, you kinda wished there was more. Of these 10 tracks, there were basically taken from the 1970s, his most popular decade of his career. But he started recording albums in 1963. From 1963 to 1969, he recorded a total of six albums. The Seventies decade saw nine albums. Five albums in the 1980s, one in the 1990s, and one in the 2000 decade. Throughout his career, he was a session musician for many popular artists, including Sam Cooke, The Beatles, George Harrison, John Lennon, Rolling Stones, Sly & The Family Stone, (King Curtis & Aretha Franklin), Barbra Streisand, Peter Frampton, Ringo Starr, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Luther Vandross, Little Richard, Giovani Jovanotti, Nino D'Angelo, Mick Jagger, Jephte Guillaume & the Tet Kale Orkestra, Donnie McClurkin, Helen Baylor, The Jaguares, Me'shell Ndegeocello, Richie Sambora, Fastball, Elton John, Nikka Costa, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Donnie, Jet, Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, Rebecca Pidgeon, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sam Moore, Is'real Benton, Howard Hewett. (What a lineup!)

    Another interesting fact about Billy Preston, is his interest in Gospel music. He recorded seven gospel albums, from the timespan of 1965 to 2001.

    There are three Jazz/Funk instrumentals on The Best: "Outa-Space," "Space Race" and "Struttin'." From hearing only these three, you're curious if he had more. They are that good. These two songs are easily very good Jazz numbers, that easily fit many of the popular artists from the 1970s Jazz era.

    From his Gospel recordings is "That's The Way God Planned It." Although he wanted to be more of a Gospel artists, his sexual orientation of being a gay would affect his gospel future. He committed himself in the Christian life, yet his personal beliefs were at odds. Not being gay, but working in the world of Rock & Roll, of which he was most famous for. And, he did experience sexual abuse when he was younger. At the age of nine, he was sexually abused when he was performing in a touring production of Amos 'n' Andy. Abused by the touring company's pianist, his mother did not believe him when told.

    What many many not know, is that Billy Preston co-wrote the song "You Are So Beautiful." This song was most famous by Joe Cocker. The song was actually written for Preston's mother. Preston's own version is on this compilation. A soulful track finds "I'm Really Gonna Miss You," and Pop meets Classical is on "I Wrote A Simple Song."

    The Best is only 10 tracks, and I'm sure there were other great songs by Billy Preston. These 10 tracks are the common ones people will remember from his career.

    He had been battling kidney disease, brought on by his hypertension in his later years. He received a kidney transplant in 2002, but his health continued to decline. He also voluntarily admitted himself at a drug rehab clinic, at the suggestion of his fellow musician friend, Is'real Benton. Preston suffered from pericarditis there, which lead to respiratory failure, and a coma by the end of 2005. He passed away on June 6, 2006. He was 59 years old. He died from complications of malignant hypertension, resulting in kidney failure and other complications.

    Billy Preston was a great performer and musician. His musician credits are quite extensive. His music (as few songs that were popular) will always be played on Oldies Radio. And, being considered a "fifth Beatle" has to be a great accomplishment, whether he really was a Beatle or not.

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    Previous Review: #1499
    Various Artists--The Disco Years, Volume 2: On The Beat (1978-1982)
    Next Review: #1501
    Paul McCartney--Off The Ground