Billy Paul, the soul singer best known for his 1972 single “Me and Mrs. Jones,” died on Sunday (April 24), according to a message posted on his website.He was 81 years old.  In 1963, he played the organ on Sam Cooke's Night Beat album and released his own debut album, 16 Yr. Old Soul, for Cooke's SAR label. In 2002, Preston appeared on the Johnny Cash album American IV: The Man Comes Around, playing piano on "Personal Jesus" and "Tear-Stained Letter". He continued to play on solo records by Stones members like Mick Jagger's Wandering Spirit, and made appearances on the band's Tattoo You and Bridges to Babylon. It was after this incident that he began abusing cocaine and having sex with men, and Moore has stated that she saw his drug abuse as his way of coping with the internal conflicts he felt about his sexual urges. He was truly, truly, truly a genius.”. Sometimes called the ‘fifth Beatle’His partnership with the Beatles began in early 1969 when friend George Harrison recruited him to play on “Let It Be,” a back-to-basics film and record project that nearly broke down because of bickering among band members. He left Motown in 1984 and focused on session work, contributing to works by artists such as Luther Vandross (his organ solos were included on Vandross' 1985 hit "Til My Baby Comes Home"), Whitney Houston and Patti LaBelle, among others. Born William Everett Preston, September 9, 1946, in Houston, TX; died of kidney failure, June 6, 2006, in Scottsdale, AZ. Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long. “His legacy is so huge I don’t even know where to start,” Moore said. Preston was an American rhythm and blues musician from Houston, Texas: raised mostly in Los Angeles, California. , Preston had suffered kidney disease in his later years, brought on by his hypertension.  After submitting to a drug test, Preston tested positive for cocaine.  Later that year, Preston contributed the title song to the hit blaxploitation film Slaughter starring Jim Brown..  He had been placed on three years' probation earlier that year after testing positive for cocaine use; under the terms he agreed to spend 90 days in jail and to remain drug-free.  Preston played organ and electric piano for the Beatles during several of the Get Back sessions; some of these sessions appeared in the film Let It Be and on its companion album. Preston also worked, in a more limited role, on the Abbey Road album, contributing organ to the tracks "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Something". “If I played a new idea, he would know where to put it and in what category,” said Crouch, who has performed with Quincy Jones and Elton John. Preston was one of five musicians credited on a Beatles recording other than the group's four members. When and how did "5th Beatle" Billy Preston die? Although the details did not become fully known to the general public until after his death, Preston struggled throughout his life to cope with his homosexuality, and the lasting effects of the traumatic sexual abuse he suffered as a boy. Although his sexual orientation became known to friends and associates in the music world (such as Keith Richards), Preston did not publicly come out as gay until just before he died: partly because he felt that it conflicted with his deeply held religious beliefs and his lifelong association with the church, he was in the closet until shortly before his death. 1 solo hits and work with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, died yesterday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Preston first met the Beatles as a 16-year-old in 1962, while part of Little Richard's touring band, when their manager Brian Epstein organized a Liverpool show, at which the Beatles opened. "Just for You (Put the Boogie in Your Body)", 1975: "Steal Miss Liza (Steal Liza Jane)" (, 1986: "Great Gosh A'Mighty (Been a Long Time Comin')" – co-written with, This page was last edited on 12 January 2021, at 21:00. Billy Preston, the ‘fifth Beatle’ On June 6, 2006, the world lost a musical Genius when Keyboard wizard Billy Preston died from kidney failure at 59 years of age. Five years later, he was sentenced to three years in prison for violating probation. “Billy was a fantastic and gifted musician ... a superb singer in both recording sessions and on stage,” Stones singer Mick Jagger said. , While on probation for a drunk driving conviction in August 1991, Preston was arrested for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old Mexican boy, after picking him up at a gathering point for day laborers.  Preston was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon involving a man he picked up to do work at his home, the day before his arrest in the case involving the boy. Billy Preston, the exuberant keyboardist who landed dream gigs with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and enjoyed his own hit singles including “Outta Space” and … Handy — played as an adult by Nat “King” Cole — in the 1958 biopic “St.  His plea called for five years of probation, one year in jail, and $60,000 in restitution. Tap to … The Washington Post explained their subsequent meeting: They'd hook up again in 1969, when the Beatles were about to break up while recording the last album they released, Let It Be (they would later record Abbey Road, which was released prior to Let It Be). Billy would have turned 74 today. Copy link. Along with Tony Sheridan, he was one of just two non-members to receive top billing on a Beatles record.. Billy Preston first met The Beatles while … He appeared on several of Harrison's 1970s solo albums, starting with All Things Must Pass; made a notable contribution to the Concert for Bangladesh, the Harrison-organized 1971 charity benefit; performed with the ex-Beatle on his 1974 tour of North America; and played at the 2002 Concert for George tribute, held at London's Royal Albert Hall. He played a set of three Harrison songs—"Give Me Love", "My Sweet Lord" and "Isn't It a Pity"—with Dhani Harrison and Starr joining on guitar and drums, respectively, for the last song. Trivia (11) Starts 3 year jail term … In 1971, Preston left Apple and signed with Herb Alpert's A&M Records. When choir director of the church saw the seven year old wonder kid imitating his conducting motions, he placed Preston in front of the group. ... Billy Preston was as vibrant a music star as you could hope to know. Preston was a top session keyboardist in the 1960s, during which he backed artists such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Everly Brothers, Reverend James Cleveland, and the Beatles. Harrison himself quit at one point, walking out on camera after arguing with Paul McCartney. “[Jail] was a great lesson, an awakening. William Everett "Billy" Preston (September 9, 1946-June 6, 2006)--Keyboards-- (also known as "The Fifth Beatle, and as an unofficial member of the Rolling Stones, 1973-1977, 1997). He was taking piano lessons at age 3 and was just 10 when he played keyboards for gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. He died 24 hours later on January 5 - without any family at his bedside. Shopping. June 6, 2006: Billy Preston died in Scottsdale, Arizona of complications of malignant hypertensionthat resulted in kidney failure and other complications.  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