Wednesday, June 07, 2006
RIP Billy Preston - It's Alright Ma...
Billy Preston died yesterday. A master of driving keyboard and fierce hammond, Billy's early breaks with Ray Charles and Little Richard brought him into contact with George Harrison, who promptly signed him to Apple, and then hired him for the Beatles' Let It Be album sessions, and rooftop gig.
Preston recorded a bunch of albums in the years following, often a long way from his R&B roots, and often struggling to catch up with the changing sounds of black music ; just the man, then, to be hired by the Rolling Stones for their honky take on disco, "Miss You", on which Preston's boozy Rhodes lights the fuse.
A familiar tale of drink, drugs, fraud and moral charges through the late eighties and nineties wound up with some kind of redemption recently. Preston recently toured with Clapton, The Funk Brothers, Steve Winwood, and even recently appeared on the US TV's show Pop Idol, before signing off on the sessions for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' recent album, and Neil Diamond's Twelve Songs.
Preston's mean take on "It's Alright Ma" is taken from his otherwise expendable "Everybody Likes Some Kind Of Music", though I'm a huge fan of his "Billy's Bag" 45, available for peanuts, and sporting a tremendous sprawling hammond take on John Barry's flip on the reverse.