A native of Houston Texas, Billy Preston was born with the natural gift of music and was a child prodigy on piano and organ. By age ten he was playing keyboards with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and two years later was featured in Hollywood's film bio of W.C. Handy, "St. Louis Blues," as young Handy himself. In his teens Preston played with other notable artists like Little Richard and Ray Charles plus years later backed up the Beatles, playing keyboards on "Let It Be," "The Beatles" (White Album) and "Abbey Road." He also had the distinction of being in the band at their final live performance on the London rooftop of Apple Corps headquarters on January 30, 1969. Sadly, he passed away on June 6, 2006 after suffering from chronic kidney failure. Preston had been in a coma since November of last year.
As a soloist, Preston topped the record charts in the early 1970s with "Outta Space," "Will It Go Round in Circles," and "Nothing from Nothing." He joined the Rolling Stones on tour and backed them up on "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and "Heartbreaker." He also wrote the Joe Cocker hit "You Are So Beautiful," and collaborated with Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Quincy Jones, and Barbra Streisand.
Starr, a long-time friend, was deeply affected by the loss of Preston and in a recent interview said, "I saw Billy a couple of days before he fell down into the coma. I went to see him, spoke to him, and we were sitting outside in the sun in L.A. Then all hell broke loose and he never came to. But as a musician, there was no finer musician, and as a friend, he was a good friend."
After 10 years plagued by lawsuits, personal fallouts and bad vibrations, the surf was up once again as original Beach Boys Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine joined Bruce Johnston and former member David Marks on June 13 at a reunion of sorts at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. The gathering was in recognition of the group's 40th anniversary of the classic "Pet Sounds" album and also to celebrate the fact that 2003's "Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys" had reached double platinum sales status. Upon receiving his award, Jardine joked: "It's always good to do this while we're still living." Rumor has it that the boys may even consider putting their differences aside and perform together again. When asked if there would be a reunion concert, Wilson said "Yes, there's a chance of that."