Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Billy Preston

The latest musician to bite the dust is Billy Preston. If you’re not old enough to know who he was, he had several hits in the early 1970s. His best-known songs were “Outta Space” (an instrumental), “Will it go round in circles” and “Nothing from Nothing.”

The summer of ‘72 was a trippy time to be listening to the car radio. Between “Outta Space” and Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” (also an instrumental) — if you were stoned, you could be just driving along and all of a sudden your inner ear — Hell, the whole inside of your head — would be vibrating and echoing and reverberating in ways God never intended. (Uh, ahem, er, I read that somewhere.)

Even if you’ve never heard of him, he did the electric piano solo on the Beatles’ hit “Get Back.”

His music wouldn’t be described as jazz by any stretch (unless he had some album tracks I never heard), but “crossover” jazz musician Tom Scott once told Downbeat Magazine (about Billy Preston) “even if he only played one chord, it was soooo good.”

And that’s just how he sounded. No matter what category of music you were into (or not into), everything he played just sounded soooo fuckin’ good, you could TASTE it.

He was 59. He’d already been in a coma for a long time from a failed kidney transplant operation in 2002.

Dead at 59. In a coma for several years before-hand. What the fuck is going on here??? Gene Pitney dying at 65 (about two months ago); and then Desmond Dekker (around the same age).

John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell both got shot and killed by some sickfuck (same date, 24 years apart).

Why do some people die young (relatively) when their only crime was bringing music and enjoyment to millions of listeners? Strom Thurmond lives to be 100?!? Old doddering senile politicians and robber barons go on living and living. The patriarch and matriarch of the Bush Crime Family are still alive and well and in their 80s.

And yet…

If there’s really a god, we need to ask: what the fuck are you doing?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?


Blogger J. Marquis said...

Yeah, it's sad. Being in the music biz that long, I imagine Billy may have done some self-damage. But then again, Keith Richard is still alive so who knows...

June 8, 2006 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

J. Marquis: Oh yeah, I'm sure Billy Preston didn't live a clean teetotaling lifestyle. Good old Keith Richards, he's got more lives than a cat. He'll probably still be partying when he's 90, still falling out of trees.

June 8, 2006 at 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billy Preston had a real drug problem. I think he did some time for it. I just find it so hard to believe he was 59.

If you had to classify Preston. He was one of the first "crossover" Rock musicians who brought in a heavy dose of Gospel - most come from a blues background but Billy had a heavy Gospel background. His mother was a Gospel singer who played Sapphire on the Amos and Andy TV show. He also played with Mahalia Jackson.

This man was referred to as the 5th Beatle.


June 9, 2006 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: Yeah, I'd say gospel and rock would be a good description of his music, with some psychedelic overtones (hey, it was the early '70s).

I read in his obit that he'd played on a lot of Beatles' songs and a few things by the Stones; all I knew of was "Get Back." The obit also said he was called the 5th Beatle. I hadn't known that either, or that his mother played on Amos and Andy.

June 9, 2006 at 6:00 PM  

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