'Keyboard hero Billy Preston dies'
Billy Preston worked on Beatles albums including Let It Be
US keyboard legend Billy Preston, known for his work with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones as well as his own solo hits, has died at the age of 59. Preston played on The Beatles' Let it Be, the Stones' Exile on Main Street and landmark albums by Bob Dylan, Sly & the Family Stone and Aretha Franklin. He had solo hits in the 1970s with Will It Go Round In Circles, With You I'm Born Again and Nothing From Nothing. Kidney failure had left him in a coma since November. Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger said: "Billy was a fantastic and gifted musician ... a superb singer in both recording sessions and on stage. Preston also toured and recorded extensively with The Rolling Stones - "He was great fun to be with on stage when touring with us and I will miss him a lot." Born in Houston, Texas, Preston started out playing with Ray Charles and Little Richard. He became friends with The Beatles when he played with Little Richard in Hamburg and the soon-to-be superstars were the support act. The musician went on to play keyboards on Let it Be and Abbey Road and the song Get Back was credited to The Beatles and Billy Preston - the only time the Fab Four shared the limelight on a hit single. "I was at the Beatles' office, and John said, 'Look, Willy' and he showed me the record," Preston told the Chicago Sun-Times two years ago. "I looked, and it was great. Wow! It was really something to do that for me." Lennon was even reputed to have suggested that Preston should join the group - but the idea was said to have been scuppered by the rest of the band. Preston was a prolific songwriter and enjoyed solo success
Preston was credited with soothing tensions within The Beatles during the Let It Be sessions - George Harrison likened it to a feuding family staying on its best behaviour in front of a guest. And he accompanied the band during their last live show on the roof of the Apple Records building in 1969, which he said was the highlight of his career. Apple Records managing director Neil Aspinall said he was "truly saddened" to hear the news. "Billy made memorable contributions to The Beatles' albums Let it Be and Abbey Road as well as recording two solo albums for Apple Records. He was a good friend of Apple's and will be greatly missed."