Billy Preston was born on September 2,1946 in Houston, Texas and raised mostly in Los Angeles. His career has successfully spanned three decades. He began playing piano at age three, starting on his mother's lap, and progressed to his first "solo" performance of "Mary Had A Little Lamb."
Fifteen-year-old-Billy Preston's first experience playing rock n' roll was with Little Richard during a tour of Europe in 1964. Sam Cooke, who Billy had met during his gospel touring, was also on the bill. His debut album was titled "The 16 Year Old Soul." He first met the Beatles during that tour, and they became good friends.
He met with his idol Ray Charles. He recorded and toured three years with Ray Charles. An interesting parallel in the careers of Billy Preston and the Beatles, was that as Vee Jay was also still releasing Beatles records in the U.S. at this time. The next time he toured Britain, this time with Ray Charles, Billy and George met up again, and the Beatles decided to buy his recording contract from Vee Jay and sign him to their new Apple label. George Harrison produced his UK hit "That's The Way God Planned It." The following year he made a guest appearance at the Concert For Bangladesh.
Billy Preston is acknowledged as the "Fifth Beatle" due to his work on the "Let It Be" and "Abbey Road" albums, as well as the landmark "White Album." The only person to ever have full label copy credit with the group, Billy Preston appeared with them in the films, "The Complete Beatles" and "Let It Be." He also performed with them during their historic rooftop final concert. In the late 60's Billy Preston worked with John Lennon and Yoko Ono on their solo "Plastic Ono Band" album as well as Ringo Starr's solo single "Oh My My" and George Harrison's American tour.
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