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There are few stars let alone sidemen in rock’n’roll who can boast a CV to rival that of the late Billy Preston. He played keyboards with the Beatles on the albums Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970) and on the roof of the Apple Building during their final live performance in 1969. And he was prominently featured in the recording of many albums by the Rolling Stones, from Sticky Fingers (1971) to Bridges To Babylon (1997), as well as playing a starring role in the group’s touring line-up for much of the 1970s.

Strutting around the stage with his huge Afro hairdo, brightly coloured suits and keyboard wrapped around his neck, Preston became an iconic figure of the 1970s. As a solo act with a singing voice rich in R&B and gospel traditions, he enjoyed US No.1 hit singles with ‘Will It Go Round In Circles’ (1973) and ‘Nothing From Nothing’ (1974) along with a Grammy-winning instrumental hit ‘Outa-Space’ (1972) and his UK favourite ‘That’s The Way God Planned It’.

Although latterly beset by legal, personal and health issues, Preston maintained a stellar contributing role to the end, playing clavinet on the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Stadium Arcadium, released in 2006, the year that he died at the age of 59.

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The Most Exciting Organ Ever
Billy Preston - The Most Exciting Organ Ever
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Wildest Organ In Town
Billy Preston - Wildest Organ In Town
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Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music
Billy Preston - Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music
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