Billy Preston would have been 70

I continue to nag that Billy Preston should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,

billy-prestonWhen I was in college at SUNY New Paltz, WAY back the spring of 1972 (I think), I saw Billy Preston in concert, probably the second live concert of a “name” artist that I ever saw, after Seals & Crofts. He must have played in the Elting Gym. I took pictures, but from where I was seated, in the rafters, all I got was shadows and the backs of people’s heads.

You SHOULD know Billy Preston, keyboard player extraordinaire. Wrote about him five years ago. Not much has changed since then, since he died about three months shy of his 60th birthday, on 06/06/06 from “complications of malignant hypertension that resulted in kidney failure and other complications,” probably from drug use.

Well, there is one thing I learned in the last lustrum. From the Wikipedia:

Although the details did not become fully known to the general public until after his death, Preston struggled throughout his life to cope with his sexual orientation, and the lasting effects of the traumatic sexual abuse he suffered as a boy. Although his homosexuality became known to friends and associates in the music world… Preston did not publicly come out as gay until just before he died. This was reportedly partly due to the fact that Preston felt that his sexual orientation conflicted with his deeply held religious beliefs and his lifelong association with the church, so he remained “in the closet” until shortly before his death. Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, mentions Billy Preston’s struggles with his sexuality.

As someone who grew up in the black church, I can imagine the internal struggle.

I continue to nag that he should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, under the Award for Musical Excellence category, which used to be the sidemen category.

Last time, I concentrated on songs Billy Preston played on other people’s records. This time, my favorite Billy Preston tracks, with links to all, and notation of chart action.

7. Nothing from Nothing from The Kids & Me – #1 US, #8 US R&B
6. I Wrote a Simple Song from I Wrote A Simple Song (IWASS) – #77 US
5. It Doesn’t Matter from That’s They Way God Planned It (TTWGPI)
4. Outa-Space (IWASS) – #2 US, #1 US R&B, #44 UK
3. That’s the Way God Planned It (Parts 1 & 2) (TTWGPI) – #62 US, #11 UK
2, Will It Go Round in Circles from Music Is My Life – #1 US, #10 US R&B
1. Do What You Want (TWGPI) – I LOVE how slowly it starts, and how fast it’s going at the end

And I SO like this:
11 year-old Billy Preston; Nat “King” Cole

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Billy Preston would have been 70”

  1. The fact that he’s the only sideman ever credited on the label of a Beatles record ought to be more than enough to secure his fame.

    “Outa-Space” was the B-side of “I Wrote a Simple Song.” You need only look at my copy of the 45 (A&M 1320) to see which got played more often; the charts reflect that almost everyone else did that too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.