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Died On This Date (June 6, 2006) Billy Preston / Soul Legend

Posted by themusicsover on June 6, 2010

Billy Preston
September 2, 1946 – June 6, 2006

Besides winning a Grammy for his own work, keyboardist Billy Preston made major contributions to some of the greatest names in pop music history. He can be heard playing alongside the Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, the Jackson 5, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and of course, the Beatles, sometimes being credited as “the 5th Beatle.” In fact he is one of only two non-Beatles to receive performance credit on any Beatles album – the other being Tony Sheridan. Preston signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records in 1969 and began a streak of hits that included “Nothing From Nothing,” “Will It Go Round In Circles,” and the Grammy winning, “Outta Space.” The ’70s found Preston very active mostly recording and touring with the Rolling Stones. The ’80s however, were a dark time for Preston as he had a few run-ins with the law. He was arrested and convicted of insurance fraud for setting his own house on fire, and in 1991 he was arrested for attacking a prostitute after discovering he was a transvestite and not of legal age. Most of his troubles were likely attributed to his dependency on cocaine and alcohol. He beat those demons in the early ’90s and got back to work mostly in a support capacity on the keyboards, working with the likes of Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. Preston had kidney problems throughout his later life, likely due to his substance abuse problems. He received a kidney transplant in 2002. Billy Preston died of kidney failure on June 6, 2006.

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