Billy Preston (September 2, 1946 - June 6, 2006) was a singer, songwriter, and keyboardist who rose to fame during the early 1970s. A child prodigy who got a very early start in music, he was playing the organ professionally by age 10, backing such top artists as Mahalia Jackson. He played the role of young Will Handy in the 1958 movie, "St. Louis Blues," and he also made many other TV and movie appearances over the years.
Preston made his debut in 1969 on the Pop/Rock charts with the gospel-styled "That's The Way God Planned It." His long string of hits on both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts also included "Outa-Space" (1972), "Will It Go Round In Circles" (1973), "Space Race" (1973), "Nothing From Nothing" (1974), "Struttin'" (1974), and "With You I'm Born Again" (1979, with Syreeta Wright). "Outa-Space," which topped the R&B charts, won Preston a Grammy in 1972 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. He also co-wrote "You Are So Beautiful" which became a smash hit for Joe Cocker in 1975.
Throughout his long music career, Preston was also a prolific and highly sought-after session musician whose numerous recording credits included "Get Back" and "Don't Let Me Down" with The Beatles. He also performed and/or recorded with many other top bands and artists including Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, King Curtis, Sly & The Family Stone, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.
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- Nothing From Nothing 1974
(This song topped the charts.)
- Outa-Space 1972
- Struttin' 1974
- Will It Go Round In Circles 1973
(This song, which topped the charts, was used as part of the soundtrack for the 1996 movie, "Beautiful Girls," starring Matt Dillon.)
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