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!
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.