Billy Preston ……… the unique “Fifth Beatle”

As is well known, Billy Preston was the only musician to get billing on a Beatles song as the worldwide # 1 hit “Get Back” was credited to “The Beatles with Billy Preston”. The talented keyboardist, who died in 2006 at age 59, first met the Beatles in Hamburg when he was touring with Little Richard. Preston was one of the first artists signed to the Apple Records label.

While there were several people who were dubbed “The Fifth Beatle”, Billy Preston was the only one from that list who had a number one song of his own, and two of them at that. “Will It Go Round in Circles” was in the top position on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in early July 1973. “Nothing from Nothing” stayed at number one for one week in October 1974.

Preston also co-wrote the song “You Are So Beautiful” with Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson. Of course, this tune became the signature song of Joe Cocker; “You Are So Beautiful” also came to be the one song that Dennis Wilson would sing during Beach Boys concerts. Preston toured with the Rolling Stones from 1973-1977, playing alongside original Stone-turned-road manager Ian Stewart. He appeared on all of the Stones albums from time frame, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock and Roll, and Black and Blue.

Billy Preston toured as a member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band in 1989 and 1995.

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