The Beatles and its Focal Point; Billy Preston.


First, I must mention it is not any birthday or other anniversary of someone! My mind engaged with The Beatles these days because of their new documentary movie: Get Back. Although unfortunately, it’s on the Disney channel, and I can’t watch it because I’m not registered there. However, I watch the video clips from that movie now and then and remember my youth as we grew up with them.

Of course, it is not something new, but what hit my mind to write this post is remembering Billy Preston and his influence on The Beatles.

Billy Preston was one principal emphasis in the Beatles works, especially in the later albums. Some people say he was the fifth Beatles, but I believe George Martin was the fifth Beatles and led their songs in such magnificent and tuned sound for many years. Notwithstanding, Billy Preston gave a unique soul to the songs, notably, their latest works despite all of these.

He had a turbulent life, as many artists should have? He worked with so many famous musicians. In addition to his successful solo career, with several funks and R&B hits, Preston gigged for a host of all-time greats: Ray Charles, Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones…the list goes on.

He also had intoxication problems, and I think he had suffered a lot too under his sexual orientation;

As an adult, Preston’s star was tarnished by addiction, arrests and self-sabotaging behaviour that his manager, Joyce Moore, and half-sister Lettie, said was most deeply rooted in his mother’s refusal to believe that he was being sexually abused by the pianist of summer touring company, and later a local pastor.

It’s part of a lurid, longer tale, calling to mind other promising, oft-prodigious young talents who never managed to get out from under damage inflicted by adults when they were children.

He was 9.

What a cruel world we have!

Like a genius in childhood prodigy who never took a music lesson, by 10, he was backing gospel luminaries like Mahalia JacksonJames Cleveland, and Andraé Crouch.

A year later, he entered America’s living rooms. He appeared on The Nat King Cole Show, below, to duet with TV’s first national Black variety show host on “Blueberry Hill,” a 40s tune Fats Domino had popularized earlier in the decade. Which I never knew!

“You have a very excellent career ahead of you,” Cole predicts, following their performance.

Daughter Natalie Cole later enthused that the celebrated crooner “lets this kid have all the glory,” though the self-possessed pre-teen holds his own ably, alternating between organ and his own impressive pipes.

Within the year, Cole and Preston shared the big screen, and a memorable part, when they were cast as “The Father Of The Blues” W.C. Handy, as a child and adult, in the 1958 movie St Louis Blues.



11 thoughts on “The Beatles and its Focal Point; Billy Preston.

  1. Thank you Aladin for sharing your article about Billy Preston, who I knew so little about beforehand. It seems his struggles were lifelong and detrimental to his obvious creative talent, or even genius one could say. Hope your weekend’s going well. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The BEATLES!🐣🍓💈 Yeahhh. I Borrow (hehe;) my girlfriend’s sister’s Disney Plus account. So I have been lucky enough to be able to watch The Beatles: Get Back. It’s so cool watching them work together. I’m glad you’ve been able to find clips from it at least

    Liked by 1 person

  3. elainemansfield

    This is terrific! I was brought up on Nat King Cole, Fats Domino, and Blueberry Hill because my older brother introduced me to this music and Little Richard and more. I love the way Nat King Cole let Billy Preston have center stage and it makes me so sad to learn he was molested like so many other young stars. I wish someone had protected him. Thanks again for taking me back to my young girl self.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh wow, your post sent me down a whole host of rabbit holes, Aladin. I’ve just emerged from the YouTube video of Working Class Hero (which I’ve not seen before). It took me straight back to my old home town – JL’s old house, the gates to Strawberry Fields…
    I always thought that the fifth Beatle was Stuart Sutcliffe – saw the film Backbeat a few years ago – worth watching.
    Sorry for the digression.

    Liked by 1 person

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