Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Billy Preston (1946-2006)

"When you're [making music] you're just trying to do the best you can . . . You don't know if you're doing something important, and whether it will make history has yet to be seen. Just the fact of being able to do it, and striving to do the best you can, was the accomplishment."

--Billy Preston, quoted in The New York Times

In an earlier post, I mentioned that Billy Preston was ill. Earlier today, he died. He was such an interesting and gifted person, and I wish I'd had the chance to interview him. Billy's performance on American Idol last May was, as far as I know, his last major appearance.

A few related stories:

Billy Preston, 59, Soul Musician, Is Dead; Renowned Keyboardist and Collaborator
(The New York Times) "The Beatles' 1969 single of 'Get Back' is credited to 'The Beatles With Billy Preston,' the only shared label credit in the Beatles' own career."

"Fifth Beatle" Billy Preston Dies at 59
(Fox News) "He was one of those spectacular performers who put everything into his show, even though he had no working kidneys by then and was receiving dialysis. He was a warm, wonderful human being with a mile-wide smile. He was also a genius musician, the likes of whom we will not see again."

Singer-Songwriter Billy Preston Dies at 59
(The Star Online e-Central) "Preston's majestic organ set up the perfect finale to "Let It Be," while his jazz-funk solos helped drive "Dig It" and "Get Back." His fiery remake of "Get Back" in 1978 was a high point in the otherwise dismal film version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

I'm still looking for a story that digs into Preston's gospel roots. If you find one, please leave the URL in the comments section. Preston's gospel albums include Behold!, Universal Love, Ministry of Music, Words & Music: Levitical Worship; and From My Heart (Hat Tip: Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia)

Here's an entry from Red Kelly's blog, the B side, with lots of information about Billy.

Coming next week: Review of Sunny Hawkins' More of You.

Image Credit: www.artistdirect.com

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