Friday, September 2, 2011

Billy Preston---Outa Space (1972)

     He had been around.....a lot.

     As a child he played organ alongside Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, and Andre Crouch. In the early 60's, he had already played in Little Richard's band and appeared on an album with Sam Cooke in addition to releasing his own gospel album in 1963. During that time he was touring with Richard, they traveled to Hamburg, Germany where he met a fledgling group from Liverpool called The Beatles. The meeting was a friendly one and would later be of great benefit to the group and to Preston.
      In 1965 he would release his first secular album (he released 7 of them in the 60's), and in 1967 would join Ray Charles' band which was where he was in 1969 when George Harrison came to see him play. Harrison was working with the other Beatles on what was to eventually become the "Let it Be" album and film. Pressures from many different places led him in exasperation to walk out for a period of time. While gone, he caught Ray Charles' concert in London. George had been the Beatle who was closest friends to Preston and the after the concert was invited to visit them all at the studio. 

      The meeting was a magical one as all of the Beatles were on their best behavior and after sitting in with them on a session invited him to record with them. The result was that the infusion of soul and excitement that Preston brought to the album saved it from being a disaster. He is the only one besides Tony Sheridan (very early in their careers) to share billing with them on a recording. The exposure was also very beneficial as it helped launch a very successful recording period throughout the 70's. 


Post a Comment