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Billy Preston passes away.

June 7, 2006

Imagine if you will the total shock after being informed at work that singer songwriter Billy Preston passed away today. Yes the same one who enjoyed dream gigs of performing with The Beatles (Get Back and Let It Be) and the Rolling Stones (Can't You Hear Me Knocking) is no longer with us. And I myself am still in shock over this.

He suffered from a heart infection last November that left him in a coma and he never regained consciousness. Evidently Preston suffered from chronic kidney failure as well. Preston started taking piano lessons at age 3. When he was ten years he played keyboard for Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

When he was 12 he played a young W.C Handy who was played as an adult by Nat King Cole in a 1958 film "The Saint Louis Blues." He toured with fellow piano greats Ray Charles and Little Richard. He first encountered The Beatles in Germany. Andrae Crouch, a gospel singer, mentioned he had a knack for knowing how to play a song. "He was the best keyboard player in the world … It was like having a harmonica in his mouth. He had that much control over it."

He did have some personal problems being exposed to Alcohol and drugs. He also had some numerous recent problems as well that landed him in jail for a probation violation. "It (jail) was a great lesson, an awakening. I needed to reflect, to get rid of some of the dead weight around me," he later said. "You take the bitter with the sweet and I have to say it was my faith that kept me going. I had nothing else to fall back on."

Billy Preston one of the great music legends of our time. Dead at the age of 59. He will be very sorely missed. The original source article for this post done by Bob Christie (Assciated Press writer) is here.

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